The Dutchman’s Pipe Vine was once commonly used and beloved, but fell out of favor with time. The plant needs to be located wisely and you need to monitor it as it can get out of control if it goes unchecked.
This native vining plant was first introduced to the horticulture market by John Bartram in 1761, when he sent the seeds of this vine to his friend Peter Collinson in London. Bartram discovered the vine growing on the shores of the Ohio River and upon offering it for sale the plant took off. The vigorous grower with its large leaves was known to cover a trellis or shade a porch in one growing season. The plant is named for the flower’s resemblance to the pipes smoked by the Dutch aristocracy; however, Catholics referred to the plant as American Birthwort has the base of the flower is shaped like a fetus in the womb, and the plant was used to remedy the pains of birth. The Latin name also derives from this later mentioned philosophy as aristos translates to “best” and locheia translates to birth.
Dutchman’s Pipe has large heart shaped leaves that provide a dense mat with the flowers peeking out between the leaves. Historically, the plant was in great use to provide shade and privacy. A superior plant to grow on chain-link fences. Best planted in areas protected from direct wind and does not do well in dry soils.
Hummingbirds love the plant for its rich nectar, and are known to nest within the protection of the leaves of the vine. The plant is a critical host plant to the pipe-vine swallowtail butterfly. ■