Within our collection we have many species of Anthurium. If you are seeking other photos, click this link:
Anthurium regale Linden
The Regal Anthurium
Originally identified in 1888, a specimen of Anthurium regale is often difficult to locate and some find it difficult to grow. An exquisite aroid, A. regale can also be pricey when you are fortunate enough to locate a specimen. When I first saw a photograph of the very rare Peruvian beauty in 2005 I immediately began a hunt to find one. We now have two. Fortunately, some friends in Fort Lauderdale knew exactly where to look and some months later the plant was on it's way from South America.
An aroid native of Peru's Rio Huallaga valley with collections normally made north of Tingo Maria and Juanjui in central Peru, a large number of botanically collected specimens were found near San Martín. The aroid is a member of section Cardiolonchium, a section characterized by plants with leaf blades that are velutinous and appear velvety on the upper surface. Other well known members of this Anthurium section include Anthurium crystallinum, A. magnificum and A. warocqueanum. Despite the common misconception Anthurium regale is common to Ecuador and Colombia, it is not. The Missouri Botanical Garden's TROPICOS shows absolutely no collection records for Ecuador and only one specimen record can be found for Colombia. After some research and consultation with the experts at MOBOT, the specimen in Colombia was determined to likely have actually been Anthurium magnificum. A. magnificum is a similar yet not as stunning Colombian species sometimes confused with A. regale. It is commonly accepted the species is from Ecuador since the Anthurium is often exported by an Ecuadorian grower to collectors in the United States. According to several experts, their stock apparently comes from Peru. However, Anthurium species are known to be highly variable and not every leaf of every specimen will always appear the same. This link explains in greater detail the scientific principle of natural variation and morphogenesis. Click here.
With it's coriaceous (leathery) leaves, Anthurium regale can grow stunningly large. If you offer a specimen the conditions it prefers A. regale will reward you with incredible growth and eventually attain leaves that may exceed 3 feet (90cm), sometimes larger! Collectors who have observed the plant in Peru report specimens with leaves approaching 6 feet (2 meters). One internet discussion group states the Anthurium is a "slow grower", but personal experience has shown the plant grows quickly. Both of our specimens produce a new leaf approximately every three months. The key appears to be giving the species conditions it prefers and deserves.
Anthurium reproduce via the production of an inflorescence which contains a spathe and a fleshy spadix. The spathe is not a flower but is instead a modified leaf. An aroid, the inflorescence of any aroid is composed of a spathe, which many people incorrectly believe is a "flower", and a spadix which is at the spathe's center. The spathe is more like a "flower holder" since it is a modified leaf or bract . The flowers of Araceae are very small and grow along the spadix and can rarely be seen with the naked eye. The spathe appears in the shape of a hood while the spadix that holds the flowers is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis. In botany a bract is a specialized leaf that is associated with the reproductive structure of the plant. The spadix can only produce flowers at sexual anthesis. True flowers contain near microscopic sexual parts including anthers, stamens, and stigmas. Some aroids have tepals but others do not. The spathe itself contains no sexual characteristics but all can be observed with a good magnifying glass on the spadix. If these tiny flowers are pollinated then fruit in the form of berries containing seeds will eventually be produced.
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.
The inflorescence of any aroid species is unique and is a primary method used by botanists to determine the species of the aroid. Regardless of the aroid's structure the basic reproduction and pollination techniques are similar but the pollination of an aroids is dependent on which of two basic flower configurations may be involved and all Anthurium species are unisexual since their flowers are "perfect". Anthurium reproduce via the production of an inflorescence which contains a spathe and a fleshy spadix. The spathe is not a flower but is instead a modified leaf. 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.
In late 2006 I received a personal phone call from Dr. Mardy Darian, an Anthurium sp. grower from Vista, California. Dr. Darian has one of the finest Anthurium collections in North America but lives in an extremely dry climate. During the call, and several subsequent calls I made to him, Dr. Darian told me about his specimens, one of which now has leaves close to 4 feet (120cm)! Many of Dr. Darian's stunning Anthurium specimens were recently seen on the internet discussion group Aroid l and the photo seen here of his large Anthurium regale can often be found on the internet. His A. regale is one of few in cultivation that has set seeds, a rare event for collectors.
I asked botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden during a personal visit in 2006 how some growers, such as Dr. Darian, are able to have their plants constantly exceed the expected blade size. Dr. Croat responded the size of many aroids is limited only by the quality of their growing conditions. Ideal conditions along with fertilizer and the lack of predation allow the plants to simply keep growing larger. Dr. Darian recently explained in another conversation, he at times would prevent his specimen from producing a spathe and spadix in to induce additional leaf growth. Once a specimen begins to reproduce it apparently puts more energy into seed production and less into producing larger leaves. In early 2007 our specimen produced a spathe and spadix and the subsequent leaf was substantially smaller than many previously seen on the same plant. Dr. Darian explained that once he began to allow the plant to produce viable seeds the plant also produced substantially smaller leaf blades.
Due to his very dry climate Dr. Darian has an unusual method of perpetually watering as well as maintaining high humidity around his plants. Although Anthurium regale is not known scientifically as an "aquatic" plant, Dr. Darian grows his small plant (often in sphagnum moss) in pans of shallow water approximately 1/2 inch (1.25cm) deep. He does this in to keep humidity around the leaves while constantly providing water to the roots. An experienced Anthurium grower who has visited with Dr. Darian explained in a recent email that all of Dr. Darian's mature plants were acquired as adult or near adult stock and are grown potted in a fast draining soil mixture in large trash containers. I believe from my conversations with Dr. Darian his method is not actually attempting to grow the plant "in water" as some on the internet including one seller have implied. Instead, since he often uses sphagnum moss to wrap the root system, he simply allows the pot filled with moss to sit in a shallow water bath. The plant is not growing in water! He is simply using the moss as a "wick". The moss appears to soak up the water making it constantly available to the plant's roots. Many Anthurium growers are now using this method to start seeds and allow them to reach a juvenile size before repotting. However, every succesful grower I have spoken with soon transfers the plants to a porous soil mix.
As a result of Dr. Darian's method, some growers and sellers have appeared to suggest Anthurium regale can be grown as an aquatic plant. No scientific evidence to support that suggestion can be found. But since Dr. Darian reports he has over 1,000 of these plants growing from seed his method apparently works well as a means of germinating seed. I have received several emails from growers who have d small A. regale specimens still wrapped in moss from a large plant retailer. Some are afraid to remove the moss saying they were advised to continue to grow the plant "in water". Each grower will have to make his/her own decision on this matter but it would appear wise to transfer the plant to a very loose soil mixture and keep it both humid and damp while it begins to develop a good root system and grows into the large and beautiful plant it is intended to become.
The species is found along the edge of the cool (not cold) Andes Mountains at relatively low elevations. It is not epiphytic, but instead is a terrestrial Anthurium growing in the ground. Epiphytic species are those that grow attached to another plant such as a tree which is not the case with Anthurium regale. The average temperature of the region in Peru where Anthurium regale is endemic is 20 to 28 degrees Celsius (C). Converted to Fahrenheit (F), that is in the high 60 degree to low 80 degree range, or roughly room temperature to warm. A few growers are now saying on internet discussion groups Anthurium regale does not care if it is grown in hot conditions. Although it is somewhat adaptable, that does not appear to be supported in nature. It is also not supported by growers who have reported loss of the plant attempting to grow it in very hot conditions. The Anthurium is found in a very narrow climatic range in one particular major valley exclusively in Peru. More than one grower has lost a specimen. The rapid growth and size of Dr. Darian's plants, as well as our fast growing specimen, appears to indicate A. regale is pleased with the higher humidity and cooler conditions we offer. The natural humidity level of the rain forest is near 100% at all times. As a result of not being able to provide similar conditions, some experience difficulty having the plant prosper.
Two growers have sent email challenging my explanation as to how I believe this plant should be grown. That is fine. One stated he grew his plant on a window sill and watered it infrequently. That may work. But when I asked about the size of the plant I did not receive a response. Another was pleased the leaves of their plant had reached approximately 8 inches (20cm) in size in one year. If you are pleased with a plant that remains small in size and consider it is growing adequately in low humidity and with infrequent water, I cannot argue with your achievement. But our plant has grown a leaf almost 2 1/2 feet (75cm) wide in the first year of growth, is now producing an even larger leaf, and has recently produced a spathe and spadix. The production of a spathe is an indication the plant is trying to reproduce itself. The rapid growth and attempt to reproduce itself would indicate it is apparently happier with frequent water, cool temperatures and a high humidity. Another indication my observations are accurate is the amount of mail I receive from knowledgeable growers, and a few researchers, who have increased the amount and humidity with moderate light surrounding their specimens with discernable results in increased growth. However, some experienced growers have reported success growing Anthurium regale is low light.
In first year since it arrived our A. regale produced five new leaves. One was accidentally destroyed and I thought a 6th was just beginning to develop (December, 2006). It has turned out not to be a new leaf...... It was a spathe! This is the first time I've personally seen an Anthurium regale spathe and began photographing it in to document the development. (To see photos of the spathe and spadix as they develop click on the photo to the right.) The fragile new leaf I destroyed was hit with a stream of water which caused the leaf to shred. The largest leaf is now just a "teenager" at 29 inches (73cm). The longest petiole is currently over 90cm (3 feet) long. A fully grown plant is both enormous and exotically beautiful. We grow our A. regale in a very large pot in indirect light plus we allow for ample air circulation. The plant is situated near the pond with constantly high humidity. Water drips from the ceiling almost all the time. Dr. Darian grows his Anthurium regale specimens in high humidity but prefers low light. I cannot argue with his outstanding success. But the real key to success appears to be the high level of humidity.
Click the photo to follow the progress of the spathe.
We maintain high humidity around the plant with the aid of several thousand gallons of pond water just feet from most of our Anthurium species. A waterfall constantly creates spray, thus moisture in the air, thus humidity. You can accomplish a high humidity zone around your specimen by simply placing a pan of water beneath the pot so the humidity evaporates around the leaves. A simple aquarium air pump and air stone will help to increase the evaporation. I do not recommend sitting the pot in the water!
To keep it cool, some growers actually give Anthurium regale an air-conditioned corner of the greenhouse often called a "cool wall". In our atrium the Anthurium benefits from temperatures similar to the plant's natural condition in Peru. The temperatures average in the 60's to low 80's F (15.5 to 21 C) during fall, winter, and spring along with a perpetually high humidity level of 85%, often much higher. We do experience hot temperatures in late summer but only for a few weeks. Our specimen is watered almost daily in the summer, 3 to 4 days a week in winter. Dr. Darian sometimes cautions Anthurium regale is "dead if you let it dry out". One noted collector/researcher advised she has had good success with the plant in the heat of the year without damage to her multiple specimens which were wild collected. She has even allowed the plants to dry, just not to any extreme. During the winter I allowed the plant to go un-watered for 4 days and the edges of the largest leaf all began to brown. Made a believer out of me! This plant does not appear to like having the roots dry out.
As is illustrated by one of Dr. Croat's photos and a description on TROPICOS (Missouri Botanical Garden) it is sometimes found growing alongside old roads in relatively bright light. Information received from field collectors who have observed the plant in Peru indicates the Anthurium grows in a variety of lighting conditions. One field researcher told me in a personal email the aroid "definitely grows in well drained soil sometimes on the alluviums near streams and sometimes on roadside banks, never at the water's edge or in mucky soil." (An alluvium is soil deposited by a river or other running water.) Records appear to indicate in nature the plant receives primarily moderate light. Our plant receives filtered light (approximately 40 to 50%) and, as is demonstrated by the relatively fast growth of large leaves and a spathe, is prospering. One website seems to suggest extremely low light (near dark) based on information purportedly from Dr. Darian. The good doctor grows younger plants beneath his greenhouse benches. Moderately low to moderately bright light appears to satisfy the plant.
One website, as well as a discussion group, suggest growing the Anthurium in water. As explained above, that may not be wise for the average grower but appears to be possible if you live in a very dry climate and have the roots devoid of soil and wrapped in sphagnum potted in very shallow water similar to Dr. Darian's method. But it also appears the real goal in Dr. Darian's case is to have both water and humidity available to the aroid at all times. Since the plant is expensive, I recommend caution if you plan to attempt growing it in water. If you are as experienced as Dr. Darian, and have over 1000 plants to experiment with, perhaps.
I posed the question of why Dr. Darian's technique appears to work to Dr. Croat, America's top aroid botanist. He responded, "Few aroids grow in standing water but I think what happens is the plants adapt to having their roots skim the water to collect both water and still get air. They seem to be able to stand water better if there is no soil. For example, you can put Dieffenbachia directly into a pail of water and it seems to thrive." However, as one researcher stated above, in Peru the Anthurium is "never at the water's edge or in mucky soil".
High humidity and damp well drained potting media appear crucial. Our potting mixture holds moisture well, is very loose, fast draining, and very porous. It is composed of roughly 30% good potting soil, 20% peat, 10% Perlite™, and the balance orchid potting media with lots of wood chips and charcoal. We keep the potting media damp at all times. After seeing the photo of our specimen, I have received several requests from growers in Florida asking how to save their beloved plant. All I can offer is to avoid excessive heat, increase the humidity, and keep the potting media damp and well drained. Never dry! Other successful growers in Florida have recently told me they are changing to just such a soil mixture. One is using 50% fast draining porous soil and 50% chucks of Perlite™.
My suggestions as to our observations and the methods we use to grow this plant have been debated by a few growers on the internet. That's fine. Successful growers often disagree on growing methods. If you are able to grow the Anthurium successfully, other methods may work well. Some growers can and do make this plant grow on a windowsill and are happy with their results. My goal is to not simply keep it alive but to make Anthurium regale produce large leaves, as it does in the wild, as well as prosper with the ultimate goal being to learn how to produce seeds as well as reproduce the plant. (Read the discussion on the attached page regarding reproduction). I base the suggestion of cool temperatures and high humidity along with damp well drained potting media on scientific information and email exchanges with growers and researchers who have seen and studied the plant in Peru. We also now have Anthurium regale pollen in the freezer! I would consider that an indication the plant likes the conditions we offer.
This plant can easily cost upwards of $100 and it would appear prudent to offer the species the conditions it receives in nature in to have it flourish. Since Anthurium regale appears to prefer cooler temperatures and very high humidity in nature, something many growers cannot easily offer, the species may not be suitable for some growers. That does not mean you cannot grow the plant if you don't provide the same conditions we offer. I offer information to those who wish to grow it well. Recently available information on supplies from South America indicates the price may soon climb even higher on an individual specimen due to export restrictions from Peru.
Two interesting observations have been noted during
the growth of the spathe and spadix. The majority of Anthurium species
produce pollen from the bottom of the spadix upwards. Anthurium
regale does it in reverse! Dr. Croat commented
regarding the unusual nature of what we had observed. Should you choose
to read the following pages of notes on the flowering of the species you'll
learn the plant takes almost 2 months before the spadix begins to produce
pollen. We were fortunate enough to have been able to photograph the
pollen developing. And you'll learn more about the nature of the pattern
of the stamens as they extend. Despite the stamen production from top
down the pattern as the stamens extend is normal from each tiny flower.
And to our surprise, once the spadix had completed pollen production in
suddenly turned purple over night! All of that progression is
documented on the spathe and spadix pages which follow. We were also
successful in collecting pollen which is now frozen and awaiting the
production of another spathe.
Our original Anthurium regale specimen was located by Natural Selections Exotics in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In an attempt to have pollen available once a new spathe appears we have added a second plant. The new plant has leaves of approximately 30cm (12 inches) and came from Dr. Ron Kaufmann in San Diego. We suspect it will take approximately one year for the second plant to grow large enough to produce a spathe. The new specimen has intensely velvet leaves, much more so than our large specimen. In just the first two months since it arrived the specimen had already developed a new leaf. By five months it had developed two!
A truly rare Anthurium, Anthurium regale is one almost any collector would love to add to a collection! But if you wish to grow it well be sure and give the plant what it expects and deserves: cool, very humid, damp and well drained growing conditions!
Interestingly, the older plant began to develop a new leaf approximately 40 days after the spathe began to open. The development of that new leaf was tracked on the spathe and spadix pages as well. As noted earlier, it did not reach the size of the previous large leaf but that leaf was almost immediately followed by another new leaf. That leaf appears it may be the largest yet!
International Aroid Society:
To observe the growth of the spathe, spadix and pollen along with an explanation of the Anthurium sp. method of reproduction click on this link.
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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