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birthwort

birthwort (bûrth´wûrt, –wôrt), common name for the Aristolochiaceae, a family of shrubs and woody climbing vines found in the tropics and other warm regions. The largest genus, Aristolochia, includes several plants cultivated in the United States as medicinals (e.g., the Virginia snakeroot and the birthwort) or as ornamentals for their curious flowers (e.g., the pelican flower and the Dutchman's-pipe, or pipe vine). The family also includes the North American wild ginger (Asarum canadense), unrelated to the true gingers of Asia. The Aristolochiaceae are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Aristolochiales.

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Aristolochiaceae

Aristolochiaceae (birthworts) A family of climbers and a few herbs in which the flowers are usually zygomorphic and often foetid. They have a calyx that is often enlarged and highly coloured, no corolla, 6 to many stamens, and the ovary inferior and 4–6 locular (see LOCULE). The capsule contains many small seeds. The roots are often medicinal. Aristolochia is Dutchman's pipe. There are 7 genera, with about 410 species, of warm temperate to tropical distribution.

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birthwort

birthwort See ARISTOLOCHIACEAE.

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