Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron. If you are seeking other photos, click this link
Philodendron billietiae Croat
Philodendron billietiae Croat
Sometimes confused with Philodendron grandifolium
In the fall of 2006 Dutch conservationist Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe) forwarded a group of transparencies of exotic plants found in the Guiana Shield for me to review. The Guiana Shield is a very old granite formation ranging from Bolivar State in Venezuela and includes Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Amapā State in Brazil and the tip of Colombia. Ecologists consider that rain forest area a single ecosystem while at the same time a part of the vast Amazon. One of Joep's transparencies, Philodendron billietiae, immediately captured my attention. I began asking him for information regarding the species and within a few weeks I had located a specimen to add to the Exotic Rainforest. Both Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Joep provided detailed information indicating the plant was found only in French Guiana and northern Brazil. P. billietae is endemic (exclusively found) in two particular regions, one near the Rio Oiapoque in French Guiana and the other in Brazil near the Rio Negro. The Rio Negro joins with the Rio Solimoes to form the Amazon near Manaos.
According to Joep's information the plant can be found growing at ground level near rocks or well up in the forest as an epiphyte (ep-a-FITE) on trees. According to Dr. Croat, who wrote the species' scientific description, the plant is truly a hemiepiphyte (hem-a-EPA-fit) which means it can either grow from the ground up onto a tree or a bird can deposit a seed in it's droppings on a tree branch and once the plant takes hold will eventually send roots downward toward the soil. Philodendron billietiae prefers bright open areas with only slightly filtered light and is often found near a river. The specimen's beautiful leaves are heavily coriacious (leathery) with scalloped edges and each blade is topped by sharply upward pointing lobes.
Somewhat triangular, each blade can reach an impressive 90cm long (3 feet)! In nature the blade size varies and some specimens produce blades that are often more exaggeratedly long and narrow.
Philodendron billietiae produces leaves that are dark and semi-glossy on the upper surface but much paler and only slightly glossy on the underside. Adult specimens are normally found at an elevation of 100 to 400 meters (300 to 1300 feet) above sea level at a medium tree height within the forest. Pre-adult plants are frequently found growing on fallen logs. The petioles that support the leaf blades are 25 to 56.6cm (10 inches to 22 inches) long and the aroid grows appressed (close to) to the tree. Our specimen currently has leaves of approximately 36cm (14 inches). The specimen at right has leaves closer to 60cm (24 inches).
Philodendron billietiae is known to produce variable leaf blades as a result of ontogeny. commonly known as morphogenesis. Variation within species does not always require the plant to present the same leaf shape. The following link explains in non-technical language natural variation and morphogenesis. Click here.
The spathe (inflorescence) of the Philodendron is long and thin and ranges in size from 17.5 cm to 18.5 cm (7 to 7 1/4 inches). The upper portion of the spathe's interior is mauve, almost a creamy white, while the lower interior portion is a dark maroon-purple to red-violet approaching burgundy. The outside of the spathe is pale green. The Philodendron normally produces 2 to 3 inflorescences per axil and the spathe stands erect.
An inflorescence is often called an aroid's "flower" and is composed of both a spathe (the flower portion) and spadix. The spathe is not a flower but instead simply a modified leaf. The center portion, where seeds can form when pollinated, is known to botanists as the spadix. The spadix stands 16.5-18 cm long (6 1/2 to 7 1/4 inches).
The species is sometimes confused with Philodendron grandifolium but is distinguished from that species by a narrower blade. According to all known reports the species is quite rare in nature. Since we are attempting to approximate the normal growth habit for our specimen we have given the plant something to climb in an extremely loose fast draining mixture of good soil, peat, and Perlite with a large helping of orchid potting media added.
In a personal email Dr. Croat informed me he named the plant in honor of Frieda Billiet. A friend of Dr. Croat, Madam Billiet was formerly the Curator of Living Collections at the Miege Gardens in Brussels, Belgium. She and her husband, Bernard Jadin, collected many specimens in French Guiana where she was the discoverer this species.
The top main photo of is of our specimen shortly after its arrival and both inset photos of are wild specimens are from Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe) as is the photo upper right. The photo lower left is of our specimen approximately 18 months after it was first received and the final (right) is of Joep with a large group of plants of this species in French Guiana. If you would enjoy spending time in a rain forest filled with exotic creatures and extremely rare plant species while being introduced to the jungle by an expert guide who speaks six languages, Joep enjoys introducing people just like you to the rainforest of northeast South America. Joep owns an eco-tour village in French Guiana known as the Emerald Jungle Village. His website can be found at: http://home.planet.nl/~gumamaus/
For eco-tour information and an Emerald Jungle Village brochure contact Joep at EmeraldJungleVillage@wanadoo.fr
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Specimens may be available
from Natural Selections Exotics
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