California Pipevine

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Jim Dowling
Jim Dowling works as a Field Lab Naturalist at Whiskeytown Environmental School. He’s a retired teacher and ex-railroad brakeman/conductor. He takes pictures, gardens and, on occasion, spins a decent yarn.
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9 Responses

  1. Ginny says:

    How lovely.  Thank you for a look at something I had never seen before.

  2. A. Jacoby says:

    Me either . . . .

  3. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Beautiful photo Jim.  I find these once in awhile on my walks and they are so extraordinary!

    • Jim Dowling Jim Dowling says:

      If you want to see a lot of these, now’s the time.  They don’t bloom for long. I found these along the Sacramento River under trees with lots of undergrowth.  They are extraordinary.

      • Kath Surbaugh says:

        There’s a whole life-cycle bound up with these vines.  The swallow-tail butterfly (near-black blue wings) lays her eggs on these vines and the caterpillars eat only pipe vine leaves, which are slightly toxic to birds, so these plump black with red dots critters grow plump on them, then race overland to the nearest oak tree or wood-sided structure where they build themselves a chrysalis and hang out until Spring (or until the next set of rains, if there are thunderheads in August-September) when the butterflies emerge in great glittery flocks to start over again.  These just grown along the tributaries of the Sacramento River, as far as I know.  Maybe the Feather River, too?

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’m lucky.  California pipevine grows on my post-and-wire fence along North Cow Creek, and one volunteered years ago on the piece of the same type fence between the driveway the garage, next to the gate.  It won’t be long until the pipevine swallowtail caterpillars are munching away, and the butterflies are feeding on the nearby butterfly bushes.

    • Peggy Elwood says:

      Steve..have you any experience gathering seed and planting more of this plant..to support swallowtails?

      • Kath Surbaugh says:

        See my quote, above, on this cycle.  You have to have this vine and a pond of such to give it deep ground water source started so the swallowtails will have a place to lay their eggs (this is the only plant for them!)  Then bring a piece of wood with a few chrysalis into the environment (the next year, after the vine’s taken hold) and you should find nature take its course!

        • Jim Dowling Jim Dowling says:

          Good stuff!  Thanks Kath.  I was hoping someone like you would elaborate on the butterfly angle. I learned a few things!

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