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Detailed information on Growing Anthurium Species  Click this Link
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Within our collection we have many species of Anthurium.  If you are seeking other photos, click this link:

Anthurium schlechtendalii Kunth

Anhurium schlechtendalii, Photo Copyright2005  Steve Lucas,

Anthurium schlechtendalii Kunth
Synonyms: Anthurium brachygonatum, Anthurium fortinense, Anthurium kunthianum, 
Anthurium mexicanum, Anthurium tikalense,
Anthurium tetragonum, Anthurium jimenezii

Some websites state that Anthurium schlechtendalii is a synonym of Anthurium jimenezii
Anthurium jimenezii
is the synonym of A. schlechtendalii which is the accepted scientific name.
A member of Anthurium section Pachyneurium


After Years Our Previously Unidentified Giant Anthurium is finally Identified by  aroid botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Anthurium schlechtendalii is one of the most difficult to identify of all Central American Anthurium species.  This species takes on many forms in nature and grows as an epiphyte (ep-a-FIT), as a terrestrial, and even on rocks.  This is the story of how we finally were able to put a name on our specimen. 

Anthurium species are known to be highly variable and not every leaf of every specimen will always appear the same. This link explains in non-technical language natural variation and morphogenesis within aroid species.  Morphing is very commonly seen in Anthurium which is why there are so many synonym names (same plant, other name) for Anthurium schlechtendalii Click here.

In the summer of 1998 I happened upon a scraggly plant with ragged leaves at a nursery that was closing shop in Miami, FL.  For a large leaf Anthurium sp., the plant was small, perhaps with 2 foot (60cm) leaf blades.  But I bought it anyway thinking the shiny and reflective new leaves were interesting.  One important note before you read this page:  Anthurium species are known to be highly variable and not every leaf of every specimen will always appear the same.  Not every leaf of every species will appear the same!  This link explains in greater detail the scientific principle of natural variation within species as well as morphogenesis.  Click here.

After several years of growing, that "scraggly" plant turned out to be the biggest plant mystery in my atrium.  Thanks to the assistance of a number of plant enthusiasts, along with the input of Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, we thought we had solved the mystery and the plant could possibly be a variation of Anthurium plowmanii known as 'Fruffles' (or as Dr. Croat called it in a recent email, "Ruffles".  Other than scientific texts, little information is available regarding Anthurium plowmanii and even less regarding var. 'Fruffles'.  But the information written by botanist Dr. Croat in his journal Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 1991, volume 78, number 3, confirms the color of my plant's seed berries and the leaf size somewhat matches this unusual variation.  A description of Anthurium plowmanii can now be found on the ExoticRainforest here:  Anthurium plowmanii Croat

Dr. Croat is the botanist who originally identified the species Anthurium plowmanii and is my personal mentor.  But another noted botanist, Dr. Eduardo Gonçalves (gon-ZAL-vas) of the Universidade Catolica de Brasilia (Brazil) noted in a personal email, after viewing photos of my plant, the spathe and the plant's base: "It is a big one, in fact! I have seen very few A. plowmanii as big as that one you have, but they do exist. However, there is a doubt:  Is the peduncle short or long?  Your picture of the inflorescence is edited, so I can't see the size of the peduncle. If it is shorter than the spadix, it may be A. plowmanii... If it is long, it can be another thing." 

So, I went back and measured the length of both peduncles (the shaft that supports the spathe and spadix) and both of the plant's two spadices.  The largest peduncle measured 22 ½ inches (57cm) from the base to the Anthurium schlechtendalii spathe and spadix, Photo Copyright 2005, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.combottom of the spadix with a 12 ½  inch (32cm) spadix.  The second peduncle measured 17 inches (43cm) with a 12 inch (30.5cm) spadix.  So they are both longer than the spadix.  Based on Dr. Gonçalves' observation this plant cannot be A. plowmanii.  That was confirmed later by Dr. Croat when he wrote in a separate personal email : "I don't think that your plant is in any way related to Anthurium plowmanii".   Interestingly, the larger spadix suddenly shriveled and died in late August, 2006.  But almost at the same time a new spathe and spadix began to form with the spathe hanging downwards (pendently) as in previous years.
Since we have no idea what country or region our plant originated,  an accurate identification is made much more difficult.  That's another good reason for keeping the tags that accompany the plants you (this one never had a tag)!  Our specimen has leaves that at the present time reach 61 inches (155cm)  which is just about the size of the information in Dr. Croat's journal for several large Anthurium species.  But it matches none exactly.  I say "at present time" because in the past we have observed and photographed leaves even larger.  This is a living growing entity and changes all the time. 

With leaf blades approximately 24 inches (61cm) wide, the thick coriaceous (leather-like) blades feel and crackle something like thin cardboard.  The plant's leaves have ruffled edges and the blades of our mature plant grow from the base to their full size in just 5 weeks!  When the new leaves first emerge they are very shiny and reflect the sunlight almost like a mirror.  But as the leaf matures the shiny effect subsides. 

An aroid, all Anthurium species reproduce via the production of an inflorescence.  When an Anthurium is "in flower" the reference is to the tiny bisexual male and female flowers that grow on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence.  The spathe is not a "flower" but instead is simply a modified leaf.  The spadix at its center vaguely resembles an elongated pine cone.  The spadix is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis which can produce tiny flowers.  Once the female flowers on the spadix have been fertilized by an insect, normally a beetle, they produce berries.  The colorful red berries of our species are then eaten  by birds and other rain forest animal species that spread them among the branches of the trees in their droppings. 

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.

For many years we believed the plant to be Anthurium salviniae and some Anthurium experts still believe it to be possibly a hybrid of that species.  The red seed berries do resemble those of A. salviniae.  However, a photo of Anthurium salviniae, as ID'd by the staff of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, was forwarded to me from Miami in the summer of 2006 and the leaves did not match.  Also, according to Dr. Croat's scientific description of that plant, the base of our plant does not have the fist-shaped cucullate (having the shape of a cowl or hood) cataphylls at the base.  Dr. Croat verified it is not A. salviniae after viewing a photo of the plant's base.
Dr. Gonçalves had introduced the possibly the plant may be Anthurium salvinii.  On TROPICOS this plant species is noted to be the same as Anthurium crassinervium.  The seed berries of Anthurium crassinervium are red, however, based on photos of both the spadix and leaves shown on TROPICOS my plant does not appear to be that species.  Detailed information on A. salvinii has been difficult to locate.  But I will leave the final determination of the plant's species to Dr. Croat.     

If you check our plant against numerous large Anthurium species you'll see the leaves do not perfectly match any.  That is possibly due to our specimen being a variation.  Variations within species are not uncommon in nature and are often the cause of great debate amongst botanists and serious plant enthusiasts.   But now there is a new possibility.  Dr. Croat has made a new suggestion.  In a personal email he wrote, "Anthurium schlechtendalii has red berries, is highly variable and has sort of trapezoidal petioles."  He then suggested I do more research on that species.  Photos I've checked thus far of the spadix looked promising.  But then Dr. Croat asked for another photo of the plant's base.  After examining it he came back with this response, "Based on the petiole cross-sectional shape as I interpret it, it probably is not A. schlechtendalii Kunth but the cataphyll is definitely lanceolate."  So, again, we're back to square one and have no idea what species the big anthurium may actually be.

Certainly a member of Section Pachyneurium (Anthurium sp. which include the Bird's Nest types) the beauty of our plant, which in its prime spreads almost 8 feet from tip to tip, has been the source of intense curiosity on my part since the day I first brought the specimen home.  This specimen is certainly one of the largest of all the Anthurium species. 
For the first time since we acquired the plant, in the summer of 2005 we were able to collect a few viable seeds.  A botanist friend in Miami asked if ants had set up home near the base of the plant, and sure enough they had done so.  This species, like almost all Anthurium sp.,  requires insects to climb the spadix and bring the pollen from the male flowers to receptive female flowers in to pollinate the plant.  However, some research and input by aroid expert Julius Boos brought the fact the
Anthurium spadix may simply providing a rich food source for the ants.  The are simply attracted to the pheromones which produce a scent the insects can detect.  They may not have been actually pollinating the spadix by transferring pollen, simply feeding.  In the genus Anthurium there are several species which produce ripe fruit with viable seed without pollination.   This phenomenon is known to botanists as the species being apomictic.
In the new photo above you can see the actual size of the leaves in relationship to the park bench.  Another large leaf is hidden behind the bench and a second is not visible behind the banana tree to the right side of the plant.  As the leaves age they tend to lay closer and closer to the ground.  Two spadices and spathes are visible.  When the spathe was first formed they stood erect as in the inset photo.  Seed berries are just beginning to form (August, 2006).
After reading and rereading piles of technical materials I still had no clue
as to what the plant may actually be.  Fortunately, after taking parts of the specimen to Dr. Croat in St. Louis he was able to identify the species!  After examining a full leaf blade and a complete inflorescence at the Missouri Botanical Garden,   Dr. Croat stated the petiole had an unusual form which is shaped like a capital letter "D" and is not normal for
Anthurium schlechtendalii.  The plant has also produced spathes which are odd shaped for the plant but within accepted ranges.  And it is much larger than found in the wild!  That is likely due to good growing conditions in the atrium as well as the use of fertilizer.  He stated the plant could become even larger with age.  But after counting leaf veins and examining a variety of photos he declared the plant to be without a doubt Anthurium schelectendalii, a native of Mexico.  So our 8 year search for a name finally ends.

My sincere thanks to Enid Offolter of Natural Selections Exotics in Fort Lauderdale who originally put me on the track of a possible name for this plant as well as Julius Boos and Dr. Ron Kaufmann for their help in attempting to track this plant's identification.  And, as always, my deep appreciation to Dr. Eduardo Gonçalves for the input he so freely provides.  But my deepest thanks go to Dr. Tom Croat for giving us the his time and finally solving the mystery as well as answering my unending questions!
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