Dutchman's Pipe

Aristolochia durior (macrophylla) and Aristolochia tomentosa

The Dutchman's Pipe is a twining climber much appreciated for its lush, large and roof tile-like arranged leaves. The plant is also known to “transform” down pipes and lightning conductors! Apart from regular watering, it requires little maintenance, and pruning is almost unnecessary. Available from nurseries is predominantly A. macrophylla with the non-hairy shoots, but frequently other species are sold under this name.


Sunny (full sun) to shaded Position, protection from wind beneficial. Nutrient rich soil, fresh and moist with regular water provision, especially in sunny positions, to balance the high evapo-transpiration rate. The plants tolerate nearly everything, as long as they are watered regularly. Fertilising is beneficial. Aristolochia tomentosa (Woolly Dutchman's Pipe) is hardier and requires less attention.

A. tomentosa on tall, red lacquered trellis made of square metal tubing
Dutchman's Pipe A. macrophylla
A. tomentosa on vertical wire ropes as per System 4040.
Aristolochia macrophylla
Woolly Dutchman's Pipe Aristolochia tomentosa
A. macrophylla
A. tomentosa (left) and A. macrophylla with early autumn colouring (right).
A. macrophylla on wire ropes

Growth and Leaves

A twining climber, this plant forms dense leaf walls or green roofs, but can also cascade down like a bridal train. A. macrophylla can develop extremely large leaves, A. tomentosa is generally smaller leaved. Initially, the plant uses its energy mainly for growing new leaves, hence yearly new shoots are rather sparse, especially during the first few years. Foliage from May to November. Doesn't look “straggly” in winter, as the sparse new shoots keep their decorative (light-) green colour. The older, perennial shoots are light grey. Not susceptible to fungal diseases!

Flower and Fruit

The insignificant purplish or yellow-green flowers look a bit like an old-fashioned smoker's pipe and appear in June / July, cucumber- or capsule-like fruit.

Flower of A. tomentosa
Fruit capsule of Aristolochia
Small-flowered Dutchman's Pipe grows – as planned - into shade mesh
Dutchman's Pipe in pot, winter image
A. tomentosa
A. macrophylla in autumn
New shoots in spring

Growth Support Systems

Best to use a vertical system with wires at intervals of approx. 30-40cm. Horizontal wires may require weaving in of the shoots. See below for suitable systems. Medium, best Heavy Duty Growth Support Systems, in case of pot plants, a Light system may suffice.


Prune / thin out every 1-3 years.

A. macrophylla
Aristolochia macrophylla on tension cable
A. tomentosa
Woolly Dutchman's Pipe Aristolochia tomentosa
Dutchman's Pipe A.macrophylla on 3 parallel wire ropes
A. macrophylla
Aristolochia macrophylla
A. tomentosa

Suitable growth support systems for Dutchman's Pipes

Please click on the graphic illustrations!

 = suitable              = moderately suitable              = unsuitable