Recently there was a kind of open house at my granddad's house, who passed away a bit over 2 years ago. For a part of my life, I lived two doors down from my granddad. My brother and I would often stop in on the way to school, and on the way home, too. There were always Poptarts in Granddad's cupboard. I remember spending hours there, working on this project or that when I was a girl. Growing on the porch of the house is a vine called Dutchman's Pipe. We cousins (there were a lot of us!) called it Elephant Ears. We used to use those huge leaves for dinner plates when we pretended to have a meal, or as hats when we played dress up outside.

Sunlight Gardens gives this information about Dutchman's Pipe, aka Aristolochia macrophylla:

Aristolochia macrophylla, Dutchmans Pipe Vine

Dutchmans Pipe Vine Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8



Dutchmans Pipe is a common vine in moist southern Appalachian hardwood forests in coves and along stream banks easily twining 20 to 30 feet high. It has been popular as a porch screen for ages because it is fast growing, has large heart shaped leaves, and has odd little flowers. The two inch pale brownish purple flowers are pipe shaped or s-shaped with a widely flaring triangular "mouth" perfect for catching careless flies. The curious looking early summer flowers are borne sparsely among the wide leaves. Try it on a trellis for screening or let it ramble among shrubs and trees. It likes good moist soil and can take either shade or sun.




And so I intend to get my own Dutchman's Pipe and plant it at the base of a tree or a swingset or a trellis away from the house. The picture above is of the underside of the leaf - here's the top side. These are scans of an actual leaf from Granddad's house.


It's funny how a plant can become a symbol for childhood. I'm sure my cousins and siblings will have different things that are sharply etched in their memory of childhood visits to Granddad's house. I suspect this is one of the "passalong plants" that people would get a cutting from a neighbor and start in their own yards. It must have served as a way of keeping a house cool long before the air conditioner age. The plant at Granddad's house has been hacked down several times, but to no avail! The plant triumphs still.

5 comments:

  1. this made me remember a flower from when I was little [ probably 5 years old ] My aunt had some sort of tiny roses growing up a trellis , they looked like little carnations ... pink !
    I used to make bouquets for my dolls
    never thought that we ALL must have a memory of a plant or flower from childhood

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  2. Great post Dix. I feel the same way about milkweed. Brings me back to bein' a kid again. :> )
    ~Peanut

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  3. I remember the sunflower on the side of the Franklyn brothers house I ran into when playing hide and seek, almost knocked my self out ! I was about 5 or 6.

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  4. Great memory for the details Dixie. I had forgotten the plant & leaves, but NOT the welcoming porch and PopTarts that I used to share with you and your brother - toasted lightly & wrapped in a paper towel since it was too hot to hold directly along with a glass of milk from the bottles delivered to the door! Fond memories with you on cool mornings in the kitchen!
    From one of your same age cousins!

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  5. It seems that the details of childhood are etched in my mind but I can't remember where I need to be on what day now. ;-) I had forgotten the paper towels, but that's important. And ah yes on the milk delivered to the door (and OJ, too!).

    Dixie

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