Anthurium polyschistum R.E. Schult. & Idrobo
Anthurium polyschistum R.E. Schult. & Idrobo
An Anthurium that grows like a vine!
Janice and I had the opportunity to spend some time with aroid botanist Dr. Tom Croat at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis during October, 2006. In addition to the enormous Climatron which is quite literally a rain forest under glass, the garden maintains several research greenhouses where rare and exotic plants are studied and type specimens are housed. These research greenhouses are not open to the public however we were given a tour by Dr. Croat. While I was busily snapping photos of anything that interested me (everything) Janice was looking at a very unusual Anthurium that grows like a vine, Anthurium polyschistum. This strange little Anthurium sp. is often terrestrial and runs across the jungle floor like any other rain forest vine until it grabs hold of any tree in to climb.
Anthurium polyschistum grows as a terrestrial, an appressed epiphytic climber growing close to the host as well as a hemiepiphytic aroid. The semi-rare Anthurium polyschistum is unusual in collections and grows from the ground up the sides of trees or it's seeds may be deposited by a bird on the tree and grow down toward the ground where it then deposits roots. The very unusually shaped A. polychistum normally has 5 to 9 lleaflets on each leaf blade. The blue/gray blades are thin and only slightly glossy. They actually appear to be more like a palm than an Anthurium due to what is known botanically as "palmatisect" leaves. These leaflets are cut to the base of the leaf and possess undulated margins. As a result of the growth form the Anthurium belongs to section Dactylophyllium.
This delicate Anthurium is found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia. In Colombia it can be found in the Amazon River watershed along the Loretoyacu River at an elevation above sea level of 100 meters (approximately 300 feet). Dr. Croat advised in a recent personal email Anthurium polychistum "is restricted to lowland Amazonia". He also noted the plant is not completely botanically described. The palmately divided leaves are quite thin and the plant wilts quickly when the vine is cut. However, if kept in a very humid environment Anthurium polychistum will begin to root relatively quickly from the numerous root systems found along the stem.
The stem's Internodes are dark green and semi-glossy tending towards gray. The petioles are sharply "D" shaped but may also be canaliculate with the shape of a "C". A close examination of the petiole will reveal it is deeply sulcate. Sulcate indicates either a canal known as a sulcus or having numerous fine parallel grooves. The cataphylls persist semi intact on the upper nodes. The leaf blades are thin and only slightly glossy on the adaxial surface (upper) but both matte and paler beneath. The midrib is slightly raised on both both sides; If you examine the primary lateral veins you'll notice they are slightly sunken on the adaxial surface but slightly raised below. Tertiary or minor leaf veins are very difficult to observe.
Anthurium polyschistum like all Anthurium species reproduces via the production of an inflorescence and that inflorescence is supported by a stalk known as the peduncle. When an Anthurium is "in flower" the reference is to the tiny bisexual flowers which contain male, female, and sterile male parts that grow on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence. The spathe of an aroid is not a "flower" but instead is a modified leaf and in Anthurium polyschistum is spathe that is green and quite narrow with a green spadix.
Anthurium differ from Philodendron species since all Anthurium produce perfect flowers containing both male and female organs while Philodendron produce imperfect flowers containing only a single sex. The tiny flowers containing both male and female sexual parts grow on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence. To help prevent self pollination nature has designed the female flowers to be receptive before the male portion of the flower produce their pollen so in most cases an insect must bring pollen from another plant. For more information on the sexual reproduction of any aroid click the pollination link below.
The Infructescence which is produced when the plant is pollinated produces fruits that are violet purple. The spadix at its center of the inflorescence vaguely resembles an elongated pine cone. The spadix is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis which can produce tiny flowers.
Anthurium differ from Philodendron species since all Anthurium produce perfect flowers containing both male and female organs while Philodendron produce imperfect flowers containing only a single sex. When an Anthurium is "in flower" the reference is to the tiny flowers containing both male and female sexual parts that grow on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence. To help prevent self pollination nature has designed the female flowers to be receptive before the male portion of the flower produce their pollen so in most cases an insect must bring pollen from another plant.
Once the female portion of the flowers on the spadix are ready to reproduce during anthesis (sexual reproduction) they must be pollinated by a beetle that is a member of the genus Cyclocephala which transfers pollen from a specimen currently at male anthesis to a specimen that is receptive at female anthesis. A link to information from aroid expert Julius Boos can be found near the bottom of this page if you wish to learn how aroids are pollinated in nature. If pollinated the flowers will produce berries containing seeds. The berries are then eaten by birds and other rain forest animal species that spread them among the forest in their droppings.
We have the specimen climbing a tall totem in filtered light in soil that is very fast draining mixed with orchid potting media and Perlite™, peat moss and cypress mulch. Botanical notes state the plant is found in shady areas of the rain forest. Although not common, this species may sometimes be available to collectors. Our specimen was a gift from Dr. Croat and his assistant Emily Colletti.
Anthurium species are known to be highly variable and not every leaf of every specimen will always appear the same. Of curious note, Anthurium polyschistum bears a resemblance to Cannabis. This link explains in greater detail the scientific principle of natural variation and morphogenesis within aroids and other species. Click here.
If you love rare plants, would like to experience a rain forest without traveling to South America, and have never been to the Missouri Botanical Garden make a plan to visit. Plan a full day. I've been fortunate enough to spend time in several South American rain forests and this is absolutely the next best thing. A link to the MOBOT website can be found on our "Links" page which can be found at the bottom of the homepage of this website. Take a camera!
Join the International Aroid Society: http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Join%20IAS.html
If you are seeking information on other rare species, click on "Aroids and other genera in the Collection" at the top and look for the
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