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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Pararistolochia praevenosa

Pararistolochia praevenosa

Taisha is the author of today's entry on Pararistolochia praevenosa or the Richmond birdwing butterfly vine. She writes:

This photograph was taken by andreas lambrianides@Flickr, a frequent contributor to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you Andreas for sharing your lovely photo!

Pararistolochia praevenosa is a woody vine species in the Aristolochiaceae or birthwort family. This Australian species is found in subtropical coastal rainforests of northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland.

When researching this species online, the first search engine result pages are sites dedicated to conservation efforts for the Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia). It's great when I choose a photograph mainly for its visual appeal, and find out what stories there are to tell! As it turns out, this species of butterfly lays its eggs on Pararistolochia praevenosa. The larvae then feed on the young leaves. Unfortunately, due to rainforest clearing and urban development removing Pararistolochia praevenosa, this butterfly is facing decline. In New South Wales, this butterfly species is listed as threatened while Queenslands' Nature Conservation Act (1992) considers it vulnerable to extinction. Although this butterfly will lay its eggs on the weedy Aristolochia elegans, or Dutchman's pipe, the leaves are poisonous to the larvae, killing them (interestingly in the photo of the day entry on Dutchman's pipe, I learned that other butterfly larvae species actually use the toxins a defense mechanism!). Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect the Richmond birdwing butterfly. These include removing Dutchman's pipe, planting Richmond birdwing butterfly vine in the butterfly's range, and hosting community and school workshops to raise awareness and take action (see: Sands, D. 2008. Conserving the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly over the decades: Where to next?. Ecological Management & Restoration. 9(1):4-16).

6 Comments

Brian commented:

Educating the local community and getting all involved to help is the key to helping curbing extinction. Thanks for the interesting research. I love bot photo of the day!

Janey Pugh commented:

We live in rainforest of Queensland and have the Richmonds breeding prolifically here.
Lovely to read your post today. Thanks.

karen commented:

Thank you for this very interesting write-up! I love clicking on the "plant of the day"; every time I read one I learn so much!
Another huge thank you to the UBC botany forums. The information shared there has been extremely helpful when doing research for my blog!

marlene commented:

Very interesting piece here,beautiful photo. Removing one plant that is inhospitable to a butterfly and planting another seems strange. Human intervention like this could be more hindrance than help. Let nature take it's course,the Creator meant it to be that way for a purpose sometimes not understandable by we mortals.

Steve Edler commented:

Marlene. I don't think the creator intended Aristolochia elegans for the Pacific but for the Americas. Perhaps, like that apple, we should have left it there.

Jessica commented:

Thanks again for another fascinating article and photo.

I looked up the plant's namesake butterfly. What a beauty! Interesting that the male and female butterfly are so different in coloration.

I hope the conservation efforts are successful. It's a pretty complicated and labor-intensive strategy...removal of invasive, caterpillar-toxic plant and replanting of appropriate host. I hope it works.

Sorry, Oz, we should have kept the Dutchman's pipe at home. :-(

Comments are closed.

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