Climbing shrubs or perennial herbs. Leaves alternate, simple, mostly entire, often palmately veined, stalked; stipules absent. Flowers bisexual, mostly irregular. Sepals petal-like and mostly tubular, the petals generally absent. Stamens 3–36, free or fused at the base of the style to form a column. Ovary mostly inferior, 4–6 chambered, the ovules numerous and with axile or parietal placentation. Fruit a capsule, rarely a berry.
Rarely cultivated in Australia: a few species of Aristolochia are grown, primarily as A. macrophylla Lam., Dutchman’s Pipe (A. durior J. Hill) from North America, and A. elegans M.T. Mast., Calico Flower from Brazil. The only other genus occasionally cultivated is Asarum with hooded flowers similar to those of Arisarum vulgare in the family Araceae.
Natural Distribution 8–10 genera and about 600 species mostly from tropical and temperate Eurasia (Australia has 1 genus and 7 species).
Source: (1997). Aristolochiaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.
Updated by: Rob Cross, December 2017