March 17, 2023

Aristolochia watsonii

Information: Aristolochia watsonii is native throughout southern Arizona, a small portion of New Mexico, and north Mexico. Desert Snakeroot produces a large carrot like root which stores essential nutrients and water in the arid desert. While most pipevines are large vines covering vast spaces, desert snakeroot grows more of a spreading mat on the ground.
How to grow:
• Desert Snakeroot blooms and produces seeds through spring-early fall

  1. Soaking desert snakeroot seeds is a very important process. The seeds have a hard outer shell which can be tough for them to germinate.
    a. Soak in water for 24-48 hours
    b. If longer time soaking, change water every 24 hours

  2. Germination: Heat is extremely important in germinating desert snake root.
    a. A Heat mat or a heat lamp can be used to warm them
    b. 85°-90° is an excellent temperature for germination
    c. You can use a small container and fill it with a thin layer of sand for sprouting
    d. My favorite method is the plastic bag and napkin method
    e. Germination can take anywhere from 10-50 days or even more.

  3. Emerging
    a. Once desert snakeroot has broken through its seed shell (exposing its cotyledons) it’s time to plant
    b. Watering from the base is important to reduce exposure to damping off
    c. Planting in a starter pot first can be ideal for it
    d. While the plant is establishing to its new environment, water every time the soil gets a little dry
    e. Once fully established, plant in a shady or sunny, dry location
    f. It is extremely important to include a drainage substance including sand or perlite into the potting mix. No extra nutrients is required
    g. Most pipevine including desert snakeroot will flower and fruit within the first year of planting
    Facts about desert snakeroot:
    • Can be used to treat snake bites. Draws the venom out of the wound. However, medical attention is required even with the serum.
    • Desert snakeroot leaves can turn dark purple if exposed to full sunlight and insufficient watering
    • You can find Desert snakeroot in rocky-flat areas growing under other vegetation. I have found the most desert snakeroot growing at the edges of small washes
    • Desert snakeroot is highly TOXIC containing Aristolochic acid which can cause cancer
    • The small flower which blooms attracts fungus gnats, bighting midges and other small insects which pollinate the flower. I have even seen mosquitoes pollinating
    • The pipevine swallowtail uses this plant as its host

Posted on March 17, 2023 04:53 PM by arizotsonii arizotsonii | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment