Thursday, June 14, 2007
Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
Pipevine swallowtail butterflies are one of the picky sorts that can only lay their eggs and raise larvae on a very few plants. Aristolochias include the big Dutchman's Pipe vine and the small groundcover Virginia Snakeroot vine. I don't have room for the big Dutchman's Pipe vine and the idea of meeting big black wormy things at eye level is disturbing so I set out to acquire some Virginia snakeroot. Not as easy as you would hope. Through a Garden Web forum I found a man who grows odd woodland plants. His nursery is called Loess Roots but he doesn't seem to have a website. He provided me with a packet of seeds in exchange for keeping records and telling him how I germinated them. I did one batch the winter of 2005 and another in 2006. They need winter chilling to germinate so I did them in flats of a soil and sand mix and got about a 25% germination rate which he said was quite good. The first ones are planted out in the front bed and the second are still in the pots where they wintered over. I didn't think either were going to come up but they are finally emerging and growing. Maybe next year I will get butterflies.