Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:
Thank you to Ingo of northern Germany for contributing today's photographs of Aristolochia steupii, a member of the Aristolochiaceae. Many members of the genus are commonly referred to as Dutchman's pipes, pipevines or birthworts. Aristolochia steupii is native to the thickets and woods of the Georgia portion (the country) of the South Caucasus.
Aristolochia is comprised of over five hundred species of woody vines (lianas) and herbaceous perennials. The flowers lack a corolla (ring of petals) and instead develop from an inflated and extended perianth consisting only of the calyx. The fruits form into dehiscent capsules containing many seeds.
Members of Aristolochia (often?) contain the carcinogenic aristolochic acid. Despite being listed as a Group 1 carcinogen, many members of Aristolochia have historically been used or are still being used in naturopathic medicine/ traditional Chinese medicine. Extracts from a few species of Aristolochia have been used as successful remedy for snakebites, where the compounds act by chemically deactivating the venom.