Info on Aristolochia durior x elegans

mark4321_gwNovember 28, 2012

This is similar to a recent post I made on the Butterfly forum, with essentially the same questions.

I recently bought a 1 gallon plant at UC Botanical Garden (Berkeley) labeled Aristolochia durior x elegans:

Here's the tag that came with it:

I was intrigued as A. durior is typically given as a zone 4 plant. A. elegans is usually given as zone 8 or zone 9, although in California it's usually sold as hardy to 25 F.

I was also surprised at the size given for the flowers. A. elegans is usually given as 3, sometimes as large as 4 inches. A. durior is smaller.

Interestingly, there are irregular white spots on the leaves. I was under the impression these are characteristic of A. gigantea and not its close relative A. elegans. If someone knows differently, please correct me.

So I'm looking for any information I can find on this hybrid. I've already spoken with people at UCBG. Some specific questions:

What is the history of this hybrid (I remember seeing it on the UCBG website at least a couple years ago)?

Has anyone tested the hardiness? Presumably the person who made the hybrid had this in mind.

Could A. gigantea instead of A. elegans be one of the parents (based on flower size and leaf coloration)?

Of course any other comments or questions about the hybrid would also be welcome. I don't have any photos of the flowers. There are a couple online, I give a link below. I've already started trying to root couple cuttings and expect to start more in the Spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: A site with pictures of this plant's flowers

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That's a pretty dramatic flower! Unfortunately, I do not have the information to answer your questions.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 12:11PM
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TimChapman(Z8 Louisiana)

A couple notes as I saw the original post you made in a different forum.

This hybrid is sold as durior x elegans but both names are synonyms so in reality it should be macrophylla x littoralis. I don't think A gigantea is a possible parent of this hybrid.

I'd be curious to learn the history of this one and if the name is in the traditional listing of seed parent first. I haven't found a huge amount of chromosome number listings for this genus but they certainly aren't all the same. Two of the major groups seem to have the same base but one group is diploid, the other tetraploid. Still, so much breeding potential here!

I'd like to cross some of the showier Tropicals with the very cold hardy types. This might require tetraploid conversion?? I was recently told about some hybrid work with the cold hardy A westlandii (the Asian version of A gigantea) but haven't seen photos nor do I know what other species were used.

I too tried the yahoo group but the moderators don't seem to be even adding people to it and no recent posts etc. We started a Facebook group a few weeks ago though for anybody interested.

Tim Chapman

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 1:23AM
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I have both A. elegans and durior/macrophylla. Tim, did you mean to say that durior = macrophylla, not that durior = elegans?

I find durior and elegans to be very different. Macrophylla/durior is indeed hardy. I have seen it growing in Fort Kent, ME at the northern extreme of the state, on the Zone 3/4 boundry. Elegans, on the other hand, grows in the greenhouse here and freezes to the ground if temps drop below freezing in the g-house. Flowers are obviously different. The seed pods are similar in that they are an angled bolus. Elegans pods are about 3X long as they are wide, durior about 2X.

I agree w/Tim, I don't think gigantea is involved in the cross.

This is elegans in bloom here.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 2:15PM
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TimChapman(Z8 Louisiana)

The hybrid name should really macrophylla x littoralis. Durior is a synonym of macrophylla and elegans is a synonym of littoralis.

I would really like to know more about this cross, if it was man made and definitely had macrophylla as one parent. If it was the seed parent then that would be obvious, but if littoralis (elegans) was the seed parent then I'd have doubts that macrophylla was the pollen parent.

There is debate on the classification of Aristolochia. One group has suggested a split into two genera. The two parents of this cross belong to the two different suggested genera. More importantly the chromosome numbers don't match (2n=32 for macrophylla, 2n=14 for littoralis). Stranger things have happened though. But knowing more about the cross' creation would help.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 5:14PM
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I suspect it has to be a man made cross. Elegans blooms in the fall and durior is done here by late June. Of course, I've had a few July stragglers (durior), so maybe somewhere elegans can grow outside it has some July early blooms?

P.S. I volunteer at a plant place that has gigantea, and it blooms even later, doesn't even start until Sept., but again, this is indoors.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 6:25PM
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I see no characteristics of durior in the hybrid. The hybrid of durior and elegans would most likely have a smaller flower than elegans does, not a larger one. The cross is more likely to be one between gigantea and elegans than between elegans and durior. If durior were involved in the cross, I would expect the following characteristics:

smaller flower than elegans

a larger and less waxy appearance to the leaf (definitely no white spots the presence of which suggests gigantea, not durior)

semideciduous ( nobody has talked about this)

suitability as a hostplant to the pipevine swallowtail whereas pure elegans will kill the larvae

I crossed elegans and durior about 10 years ago. Made the mistake of planting the one seed that sprouted in December outside. An unusually cold night (freezing) in Orange County California killed it. I have been trying to cross these two ever since without success. Elegans can be made to bloom earlier to coincide with the bloom of durior by planting against a hot south exposure masonry wall.

Still, I would be very interested in obtaining this hybrid to check it out. I may drive up to Berkeley and buy one. When I see the plant in front of me and can test other characteristics ( i.e. smell of broken leaf ) it will be easier to discern whether this is really a cross with durior or not.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Hi aristolo,

Perhaps I should have followed up on this.

This hybrid has been since discussed on the Aristolochia forum on Facebook, as well as privately:

For actual posts, this might work:

The thinking and conclusions are essentially identical to yours. I'll post a new photo since my plant bloomed a couple times as well.

It seems highly likely that it is some hybrid of A. gigantea and A. elegans. There already seem to be a number of such hybrids out there for sale, typically assigned to one species or another. For example, the plant sold by Suncrest (wholesale) as A. elegans has flowers that are too large for that species, white spots on the leaves, etc. (I have pictures).

More interesting is the suggestion (discussed in detail on the Facebook group) that there are really two species: the huge (14 inch flowers) Aristolochia gigantea brasiliensis and the small Aristolochia elegans. The hybrids between them appear to include the plants typically referred to as A. gigantea. Therefore, if the UCBG plant is in fact A. gigantea x A. elegans (or the reverse) that could make it (A. gigantea brasiliensis x A. elegans) x A. elegans. In other words, it would be 3/4 A. elegans and 1/4 A. gigantea brasiliensis.

If you are still interested in trying the UCBG plant I can give you something at some point. I have a couple rooted, but was planning on giving one or two of them to people. I also started new cuttings about a week ago.

UCBG is still selling bigger plants, with the name unchanged.

Here is a link that might be useful: Facebook posts (repeated from above)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 3:51PM
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