Aristolochia Salvadorensis, nicknamed the Darth Vader Flower, is an alien-looking plant native to Central and South America. Aristolochia Salvadorensis thrives at low elevation in the warm, humid climate of the rainforests in countries like Brazil, Guatemala, and El Salvador. It is a part of the Aristolochiaceae family of plants, also known as the birthwort family, which encompasses roughly 500 species of plant – most of which are highly toxic.
Aristolochia Salvadorensis live in a hostile environment which means to survive, it had to adapt to its surroundings. Its sinister appearance is a result of this adaptation, as its bright white “eyes” are actually traps for passing pollinators. They are lined with small and sticky hairs that will entrap any unfortunate visitors until they are covered with enough pollen to successfully spread their seed. In keeping with their deathly decor, they also give off a “rotting body” aroma which also helps to attract pollinators.
The reason for their extreme pollination measures is their short bloom-span. Unfortunately, these posthumous-looking plants have a very short bloom life, making any encounters with them even more spectral. Only growing to be about two inches tall, these fleeting flowers bloom for about a week before they begin to wilt.
The care for these flowers is advanced. It’s been proven difficult to grow the Aristolochia Salvadorensis outside of its natural environment, so unfortunately for all of the macabre-aesthetic loving gardeners out there, these won’t be the easiest thing to keep in a novice garden. They are also quite deadly to predatory wildlife – releasing toxins to animals trying to eat it, it could potentially be devastating to local wildlife such as deer, fox, and rabbits who are just trying to forage. If you want to see this ghoulish greenery but don’t want to book a trip to South America, you can find these in specialty greenhouses around the U.S.