While the internet is littered with colorful photos of Aristolochia pipe plants, most people will never get a chance to see this rare plant in its natural environment. However, picture the amazing, slightly spooky looking buds and you will understand why the plant deserves to be called the Darth Vader plant. Aristolochia Pipevine Plant Darth Vader plant (Aristolochia salvadorensis syn. Aristolochia Salvador platensis), a woody climber native to the wet grasslands and swampy flood plains of Brazil, is a member of the plant family Aristolochiaceae, which includes pipevine, birthwort, and dutch pipe.
Like many plants that grow in difficult environments, the strange, corpse-like appearance of Darth Vader’s pipevine flowers is due to adaptations that ensure their survival. The helmet-like shape and purple coloring of the flowers, combined with the strong aroma of rotting flesh, tend to attract insect pollinators.
Once attracted, insect visitors fly through the glowing “eyes” of the Darth Vader plant. The insides of the flowers are lined with sticky hairs that trap the unfortunate guests long enough to cover them in pollen. They are then released to fly out and pollinate more flowers. Each bloom lasts only a week. If you want to see Darth Vader flowers, your best bet might be a greenhouse or a botanical garden, like Japan’s Kyoto Botanical Garden. Growing Darth Vader Flowers Can it be done? An internet search will likely uncover a few online companies specializing in rare and unusual seeds. You can be successful if you have your own greenhouse or live in a warm, tropical or subtropical climate.
Growing Darth Vader flowers requires partial sunlight and well-drained but consistently moist soil. Once established, Darth Vader pipevine flowers are relatively easy to care for, and the vines grow quickly. Prune heavily if the vines get too wild. One thing is for sure…if you’re a fan of rare or whimsical plants, or even a Star Wars fan, this is sure to be a beautiful vine that will pique your interest.