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

Philodendron insigne Schott

Philodendron insigne Schott Photo Copyright 2008, Joep Moonen, French Guiana

Philodendron insigne Schott
Philodendron calophyllum Brongn. ex Linden & André
Philodendron haematinum R.E. Schult.
Confused with Philodendron linnaei Kunth  See P. linnaei here
Resembles Dieffenbachia paludicola N.E. Br. ex Gleason
All Photos Copyright 2008, Joep Moonen, French Guiana
Considered uncommon in North American plant collections, my friend Joep Moonen who lives and works in the rain forests of French Guiana explained "you are guaranteed to see Philodendron insigne in the primary forest or if  you explore with a boat."   Philodendron insigne (in-SIG-knee) has been collected by field botanists in Bolivia, in the northeastern portion of the country of Brazil within the state of Amazonas (Brazil's largest state), in French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, and Bolivar state in Venezuela.  The Amazon basin is very large and Philodendron insigne likely populates that entire area but it is not fully understood how far south of the river the species may exist. The P. insigne may grow not only in Amazonas, but also in the states of Para, Amapa, and Roraima.  Recorded collections of Philodendron insigne have also been reported in Peru. 
Philodendron insigne Schott Photo Copyright 2008, Joep Moonen, French GuianaThe species ranges from near sea level as well as from 100 meters to 1100 meters (330 to 3600 feet) and is commonly observed at lower elevations.   As one of approximately 1,000 known Philodendron species, Philodendron insigne is an aroid and was originally published to science in 1856. 

According to the field notes of aroid botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO,  Philodendron insigne Is an epiphytic species known to grow attached to a tree.  The botanical definition of an epiphyte (ep-a-FIT) is a plant that grows upon another plant.  Often found well up in the rain forest canopy,  in the accompanying photographs by  Dutch naturalist Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe), Philodendron insigne is sometimes seen completely encircling the trunk of a tree but may also grow attached to a branch. 

The species frequently grows in lowland rain forest near sea level.  Joep recently explained in a personal email, "If i go with my boat, they are not too difficult to collect."   However,  Dr. Croat notes in his field notes the species can also be found growing as a terrestrial form.  However, Joep noted he has personally never seen the phenomenon in Suriname, French Guiana or Amapa.

Steve Lucas owner of the Exotic Rainforest with Joep Moonen in the Exotic Rainforest, Siloam Springs, AR, Photo Copyright 2010 Janice LucasIn appearance resembling Philodendron linnaei Kunth.  In Dr. Croat's treatment of Philodendron linnaei, he wrote "It is most easily confused with P. insigne, which has a similar habit, short petioles and similar long-pedunculate inflorescences with reddish spathe tubes."  Philodendron linnaei is often seen in the same regions of South America.  According to Joep, another species that looks exactly like P. insigne is Dieffenbachia paludicola.  Joep wrote, "i thought this was Philodendron insigne growing in wet marshy places until i found it in flower"

Aroid expert Leland Miyano observed, "Philodendron insigne grows much larger than Philodendron linnaei and proportionately, the leaf blades are about twice as wide in the former if similar sized leaves are compared. The rosette habit is much more pronounced in Philodendron insigne as Philodendron linnaei tends to loosely form a spiral and often it forms only a partial rosette.  The leaves of Philodendron linnaei are more acuminate at the tips and slightly re-curve. In this respect, Philodendron insigne has leaf tips that appear blunt in comparison. Philodendron insigne has new emergent leaves that blush with red and new leaves may also have a bright red edge. Philodendron linnaei has new leaf growth in shades of green."

With its rosulate growth, the leaves of Philodendron insigne grow in a tight rosette resembling the arrangement of a rose petal.    The stems and internodes are short.  The stem is divided into both nodes and internodes and the new Philodendron insigne Schott, Photo Copyright 2008, Jeop Moonen, French Guianaleaves grow from the internodes.  However, within aroid species an inflorescence may also be produced from an internode.    Once a new leaf is produced, it is surrounded by a sheath-like structure known as the cataphylls.  The cataphylls are bract like modified leaves that surround a new leaf and whose purpose is to protect the newly emerging leaves as they develop.  The leaves may also be deciduous and drop from the plant during the season of the year when rain is not plentiful.
The petioles which support each leaf are reported in Dr. Croat's notes to be both "D" and "C" shaped  The shape can be most easily observed once the petiole is cut as a cross section.  The leaf blades are moderately coriaceous and are primarily a dark green in color with a semi-glossy adaxial (upper) leaf surface.  The botanical term coriacious indicates the leaf is both thick and leathery to the touch. 
The underside of the leaf blade is paler in color and is only slightly glossy.  The edges of the leaf blade, or leaf margins, are slightly undulated in appearance.  The veins are sunken on the upper leaf surface and less noticeable on the underside. 
Aroids reproduce via the production of a spathe and spadix which is frequently called a "flower"  However, the spathe is not a flower but is instead a modified leaf appearing to be a hood  whose purpose is to provide protection to the spadix at its center.  The spathe also can aid in attracting pollinating insects (beetles).  The true flowers are located along the spadix.  The spathes of Philodendron insigne have been observed to be reddish-violet, purple, yellow-green as well as pink.  The inflorescence hangs pendently (downward) from the plant and has been observed to be purple, purple spotted or seen with red/violet spots on the spathe tube.
In regard to the cultivation of Philodendron insigne, Leland provided these additional observations, "In cultivation, I find  Philodendron insigne to have a much slower growth rate than P. linnaei, and the former does not branch unless the terminal growth is cut and the back cut has sufficient stem length.  The largest difference is that Philodendron linnaei sends out long Joep Moonen, Emerald Jungle Village, French Guiana, Photo Copyright 2008 Bernie Mooneninternod runners that form new rosette form plantlets.  Philodendron insigne never does this and grows so slowly that if it forms a vine these must be quite old."

The images on this page are the Copyright property of naturalist Joep Moonen in French Guiana.  You must seek permission before attempting to duplicate any image!  If you enjoy spending time in a rain forest filled with exotic creatures and extremely rare exotic plant species Joep Moonen also enjoys introducing people like you to the rain forests of northeast South America.   The Emerald Jungle Village website can be found at

For eco-tour information contact Joep Moonen at



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