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The Exotic Rainforest
Plants in the Exotic Rainforest Collection
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In depth information on how to grow Philodendron species, Click this Link

Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron.  If you are seeking other photos, click this link

  Philodendron giganteum Schott
Philodendron giganteum Schott, Photo Copyright 2008, Buddy Poulsen, Naples, FL.

Philodendron giganteum Schott
Giant Philodendron

Other Large Philodendron species:
Click to see Philodendron maximum K. Krause
Click to see Philodendron gigas Croat

The photo at the top of this page is Copyright 2008, Buddy Poulsen, Naples, FL.  Please note the size of each leaf in comparison the the 208 liter (55 gallon) drum!

In 2000 Janice and I often visited an exotic plant nursery near the Everglades southwest of Miami.  They sold primarily orchids but sometimes would have very interesting aroids and bromeliads.  One day they had a large leaf Philodendron that almost begged to be bought!  The grower had a book to show just how large this "Giant Philodendron" as it was tagged was supposed to grow.  Behind a leaf, that appeared to be close to 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet tall), a woman stood peeking out to the side with her body mostly hidden.  I love plants with big leaves and that photo made a sucker out of me!  I bought it! 

I later learned the seller likely had the wrong name on the plant since Philodendron giganteum does not always get quite that large and, once grown, doesn't look like the plant in the photo.  The maximum leaf size for P. giganteum from Philodendron giganteum Schott, Photo Copyright 2006, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comscientific information available is 190cm x 96cm  (76 inches by 38 inches).  For a while I thought the plant in that photo was very likely one from Ecuador known scientifically as Philodendron maximum, an appropriate name for a Philodendron with large leaves.  I've since learned Philodendron maximum rarely reaches more than 165cm (5.5 feet).  And there is a third large Philodendron from Panama known as Philodendron gigas which can grow to 125cm (4.1 feet) in length.   But recently someone sent me a copy of that old book, the Exotic Plant Manual.  And the plant in the photo was tagged Philodendron speciosum from southeastern Brazil and wasn't quite as large as my memory had convinced me it should have been.  And as it turned out, P. speciosum looks little like Philodendron giganteum which was the plant I had been sold.   The specimen above (right) is a juvenile specimen of Philodendron giganteum.

Described to science in 1856, Philodendron giganteum ranges from the Greater Antilles including Puerto Rico throughout the Lesser Antilles into the northeastern portion of Venezuela.  The species is either terrestrial or epipetric which simply means it is capable of growing on rocks.  The species is characterized by a bright red spathe tube, short internodes, persistent cataphyll fibers and a petiole that may be longer than the leaf blade.  The cataphyll is the portion of the plant that surrounds and protects a new leaf blade when it is first developing and beginning to emerge.  Specimens found in the Lesser Antilles may have a spathe tube that is less red and partially green on the outside. 

Some texts indicate Philodendron giganteum is exclusively found on the Caribbean island of Trinidad.  But according to the USDA as well as information published by botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Philodendron giganteum is found in the Caribbean islands of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique,  Montserrat, the Netherlands Antilles islands of Saba and St. Eustatius, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, the Virgin Islands and in northeastern South America. 

The spathe of Philodendron giganteum which is shaped like a hood is a delicate white on the inside but bright red on the outside.  As far as I can find the plant is a self header and does not climb.  It will tolerate quite a bit of shade but will grow faster in semi-bright filtered light.  We give it well draining soil and keep the soil damp at all times.  The plant in the photo (above right) is a replacement for the one I bought in 2000.  When we moved the collection to Arkansas in 2001 that plant did o't survive the first winter in our temporary greenhouse.  This specimen had leaves averaging 13 inches (33cm) after one year of growth.  The species often commonly available since it is grown from tissue cultures (cloned) by a lab in Central Florida.  However, tisuue culture often alters the plants appearance.

Philodendron species, especially hybrid forms, are known to be variable and not every leaf of every specimen will always appear the same.  This link explains in non-technical language the science of natural variation and morphogenesis. 
Click here.


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Specimens may be available from Natural Selections Exotics   

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