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Virginia Snakeroot Aristolochia serpentaria

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Aristolochia convolvulacea
  • Aristolochia hastata
  • Aristolochia nashii
  • Aristolochia serpentaria var. hastata
  • Aristolochia serpentaria var.nashii
  • Endodeca serpentaria
  • Endodeca serpentaria var. hastata
Phonetic Spelling
a-ris-toh-LOH-kee-uh ser-pen-TAIR-ee-uh
Description

 Aristolochia serpentaria is an herbaceous perennial groundcover in the Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort) family that works well in a woodland or shade garden. It may grow to 1 or 2 feet. The flowers resemble those of Woolly Pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa) and Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), although the flowers of Virginia Snakeroot are smaller in size and they are held much closer to the ground.  Spreads by rhizomes.

Use this plant as a ground cover in a shady garden. It prefers well-drained moist humusy loam, clay loam or sandy loam soils in part shade to shade.

Habitat: Dry to mesic forests, perhaps more restricted to mesic situations over acidic substrate, ranging into drier situations over calcareous or mafic substrates

 

Seasons of Interest: 

        Blooms: Spring             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Capsule

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#purple#deciduous#partial shade#heavy shade#brown#wildlife plant#purple flowers#deep shade#shade tolerant#shade garden#wet sites#low flammability#NC native#organic soils#deer resistant#caterpillars#Pipevine Swallowtail#fire resistant#groundcover#woodland#native wildflower#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#piedmont mountains UPL#loamy soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#FACU Coastal#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#purple#deciduous#partial shade#heavy shade#brown#wildlife plant#purple flowers#deep shade#shade tolerant#shade garden#wet sites#low flammability#NC native#organic soils#deer resistant#caterpillars#Pipevine Swallowtail#fire resistant#groundcover#woodland#native wildflower#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#piedmont mountains UPL#loamy soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#FACU Coastal#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aristolochia
    Species:
    serpentaria
    Family:
    Aristolochiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used by Native Americans for snake bites. Used in herbal medicine.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern USA
    Distribution:
    AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by flesh flies, fungus gnats, and possibly carrion beetles searching out nectar. The caterpillars of a butterfly, the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), feed on the foliage of Virginia snakeroot, although more than one plant is required to complete their development. Because the foliage and roots are toxic and unpleasant-tasting, mammalian herbivores do not feed on this plant.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    deer damage, shade, wet soil, dry soil, loamy soil, fire in landscape
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    This plant produces a 1/2-inch six-valved capsule that contains many seeds. Displays from June to July.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    1/2-3/4 inch small hairy purple-brown flowers that bloom from May to June at the base of the plant on small scaly stalks. They are pitcher-shaped flowers that are found close to the ground, lying on the ground or under leaf litter.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate leaves are 2–5" long and ½–2" across. They are narrowly cordate, ovate-sagittate, or narrowly hastate with a pair of rounded basal lobes. Margins are entire.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Description:
    Green zig-zag stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Dry Soil
    Fire
    Heavy Shade
    Wet Soil