Years ago, when my son was setting up a butterfly garden, we went around Singapore looking for food plants to grow in our farm. In our attempt to attract birdwing butterflies, we grew aristilochia tagala, a food plant of the rare birdwing butterfly. We searched high and low for the plant and finally found them growing at Alexandra Hospital. We picked some seeds and sowed them at home.
Soon, we had lots of aristolochia tagala vines, commonly known as Indian birthwort, growing at the farm. Unfortunately, we failed to attract any birdwing butterflies.
Recently I was surprised to see this rare plant growing in my patio garden. Then I figured there must be seeds pods lying latent in the pot of water jasmine that I brought back from the farm. Under the right conditions, the seeds germinated and grew into vines.
The seed pod is very interesting. When it reaches maturity, the round pod bursts into a parachute-like object, scattering the seeds around.
This is a medicinal plant. According to this website, the leaves can used to treat fever. In Indonesia, the leaves are made into a poultice and applied to the swollen abdomen or limbs. In the Philippines, the plant is used to treat snake bites and malaria. In India, the roots are considered a tonic, carminative and emmenagogue. A number of other species are used by the Chinese for dysentery, high blood pressure, beri-beri and swollen feet.
With the vine thriving in my patio, I wonder if I could see the magnificent birdwing butterfly in my garden someday?