Aristolochia meridionalis

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Aristolochia meridionalisFamily: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Aristolochia
Common name:
ALA reference

This species seems to be appearing in increasing numbers as natural regeneration occurs in the weeded areas. It is the main host plant in the Reserve for Clearwing Swallowtail butterflies. Finding these plants can be quite difficult as they are normally quite small with only about 6 or 8 leaves, but it doesn’t seem to pose too much of a problem for the  butterflies because all but one of the plants I found had already been visited by a butterfly that had laid an egg or two on the leaves. The eggs are visible in the photograph as the bright yellow spots.

This species possesses an amazing ability to flower and fruit on very young plants. I wonder if this ability to produce fruit and seeds very quickly has evolved in response to the predation by the Clearwing Butterfly caterpillars. These caterpillars can strip the plant bare very quickly indeed! So the plant needs to produce seeds quickly before it is found and destroyed.

(December 2012)

This previously undescribed plant species Aristolochia sp. (D’Aguilar Range L.H.Bird+ AQ520943) has now been classified as Aristolochia meridionalis subsp. meridionalis. It continues to come up in small numbers at the bottom of the bank below the picnic area. However the plants don’t seem to be there very long before they are discovered by a Clearwing Swallowtail butterfly which lays an egg or two on them. The developing caterpillars then proceed to defoliate the plants. It is quite amazing that the butterfly can find such small and uncommon plants in the middle of the forest!

(April 2010)