One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A climbing or herbaceous plant that typically has heart-shaped leaves and deep-throated, pipe-shaped flowers. It was formerly used as an aid to childbirth and to induce abortion.
Genus Aristolochia, family Aristolochiaceae
- ‘Many of the plant relicts are members of old families: heathers, orchids, honeysuckles, birthworts, and lillies.’
- ‘The female common birdwing lays single eggs, which she attaches to the surface of the Indian birthwort leaves.’
- ‘The three groups of paleoherbs are Aristolochiales (birthwort, Dutchman's pipe), Piperales (pepper vine, lizard's tails), and Nymphaeales (lotus, waterlilies).’
- ‘The ancient Greek herbalists thought that plants belonging to this genus facilitated childbirth, hence the common name, birthwort.’
- ‘Member of the genus Aristolochia are also called birthworts and are occasionally encountered in herbal preparations as a remedy for various ailments as well as to ease the pain of childbirth.’
- ‘Certainly, Europeans were familiar with Dutchmans pipes or birthworts - Aristolochia clematitis was employed as an ‘aid’ to women in labor until the late 1800s.’
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