Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron.
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May be confused with
A member of the larger herb family known as Araceae (aroids) Philodendron linnaei grows in the rain forests of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, and Peru. P. linnaei grows as either an appressed epiphytic climber (growing close to the host) or hemiepiphytic species growing on either the sides or branches of a host tree. An epiphyte (ep-a-FIT) is defined as a plant that grows upon another plant as the result of a seed from the fruit of the species' inflorescence being placed on a branch of that tree in the droppings of a bird or other rain forest animal. Despite a commonly held belief that all plants must have soil to grow, epiphyte (ep-a-FIT)s (including many aroid species) may never have their roots come in contact with soil. Hemiepiphytes differ slightly since they may grow from a seed dropped on the ground and then climb the host or grow downwards from the host until their roots reach the soil. Philodendron linnaei grows naturally in light shade and is considered a "birds nest form", or "trash basket" plant, since the leaves collect falling debris which the plant uses as a means of storing moisture.
My good friend Dutch naturalist Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe) who lives in French Guiana in the northwestern corner of South America wrote in a personal email, "Philodendron linnaei is not endemic to French Guiana. They occur in Venezuela, the three Guianas and Amapā, north Brazil (Amazonia & surrounding states). I found them as far south as in the State of Bahia." The term "endemic" indicates a species that is exclusively found in a narrow range.
Aroid botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO published a synopsis of the characteristics of Philodendron linnaei in volume 9 of Aroideana, the official journal of the International Aroid Society in 1986. In his article Dr. Croat indicates "Philodendron linnaei is widespread in the northern Amazon Basin (albeit poorly collected), ranging from Venezuela to the Guianas (at least Suriname & French Guiana), Brazil (Para, Bahia, Amazonas states) and Peru" In Peru, Philodendron linnaei has been observed in the vicinity of Iquitos and is normally found at elevations of less than 200 meters (665 feet). The species has also been collected at elevations up to 800 meters (2,625 feet) near the border with Brazil. In Venezuela, Philodendron linnaei has been collected from Monagas and Delta Amacuro to the state of Amazonas in Brazil. Dr. Croat continues in his description, "It is most easily confused with Philodendron insigne which has a similar habit, short petioles and similar long-pedunculate inflorescences with reddish spathe tubes." The peduncle is the stalk that supports an inflorescence (see photo, below left).
The petioles of an aroid are a stalk that supports each leaf blade while connecting the blade to the stem at the base of the plant. (see photo below, left for an illustration). Despite common misconception, the petiole is not the "stem". The petioles grow from the nodes on the stem and are the connection between the blade and the stem which is the base of the plant. The petioles of Philodendron linnaei are subterete (just less than round) in shape as well as obtusely (bluntly) flattened adaxially (on the upper surface). The petioles are shallowly sulcate as well as medium green in color. Sulcate may indicate either a single channel running down the axis of the petiole or a series of tiny parallel groves running down the axis. (note shallow grove (channel) on face of petiole, photo left, below).
The leaves of Philodendron linnaei grow in rosettes similar in shape to the arrangement of the petals of a rose (see photos, top of page). The blades are moderately coriaceous (slightly leathery to the touch) and semi-glossy in sheen. The blades may be slightly bicolorous (dual colored) with a series of rosettes joined by inter-connecting branches. The parent plant produces runners or stolens which run across the host tree's branches to then produce additional leaf buds which may become plants. You can see a runner in the top photo on this page as well as the photo (left, below). Aroid expert Leland Miyano explains further, "Philodendron linnaei in it's rosette forming stage has very short internodes, but it occasionally grows runners, usually but not always, near the apical meristem. The running stage has very long internodes. This is a very peculiar habit where there are two very distinct modes of growth. After these runners locate a suitable area they wish to settle in the rosette form of growth resumes. These new rosettes can be rooted and cut off or they can be removed and rooted on their own. The short internodes can be less than half and inch and on the runners the internodes can exceed a foot. In the runner stage, there can be isolated leaves at the nodes, or these may be leafless. The long runners can also be rooted at the nodes and these will eventually form rosettes. It is a very easy plant to grow in cultivation in all it's stages."
The undersides of the leaf blades (abaxial surface) are tinged in red (photo right, below). Newly emerging leaves develop from a modified leaf known as the cataphyll (not shown). The cataphylls of Philodendron linnaei are green and persisting (remaining) intact on the plant once dried. If the leaf blade is examined closely the midrib at the center of each blade is broadly flattened as well as convex in shape while more narrowly rounded and paler on the underside which is known botanically as the abaxial surface. The midrib is narrowly sulcate nearest the base. The minor leaf veins are only slightly distinct.
Along the stem can be found nodes from which the petioles that support the leaves grow. The stem segments between two nodes are known as an internode. The internodes of Philodendron linnaei are short on the plant and medium green in color but may be longer on a plant's runner.
species are aroids. An aroid is a plant that reproduces by producing an
inflorescence known to
science as a spathe and
spadix. Many growers believe the spathe is a
"flower" which is incorrect. The spathe is simply a
appearing to be
whose purpose is to
protect the spadix at the
center. Both the inside and the outside of the
are normally violet, purple/red, or
red. Philodendron linnaei
can be recognized by a long inflorescence
which is red-maroon to purple on the outside
of the spathe tube and red on the inside.
(see photo, below left). The inflorescence may also grow in an unusual fashion which is
pendent (downward) as can be seen in Joep's photos.
Monkeys, birds and
other rain forest animals often eat the berries which contain
the seeds of aroid species and distribute those seeds onto the
branches of trees in their droppings. This process is
how epiphytic plants find their way into the canopy of the rain
forest. An epiphyte is a plant that grows upon
another plant. Since Philodendron linnaei is an
epiphyte, the species grows on the trunks and limbs
of trees (see Joep Moonen's photo at the top of this page), and as a
result, specimens do not normally have their roots in soil.
To better understand how an aroid reproduces
Natural pollination in aroids
When I found this aroid in the summer of 2005 the seller was offering the
plant as "Philodendron longiloba" but no such name exists on any major
botanical database. I find it regrettable when sellers appear to
simply make up a name that sounds scientific if they don't know the
correct botanical name of the specimen they wish to sell. Bad
aroid names commonly circulate via the internet as a result.
Any botanical name can easily be verified on one of several
scientific websites including TROPICOS (a service of the
Missouri Botanical Garden)
or the International Plant Names Index
of the Royal Botanic Garden Kew in London. Many aroid
species can also be verified on the International Aroid Society
My thanks to my friend and mentor aroid botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO, for his assistance with some of the technical data in this article as well as to my friends Joep Moonen and aroid expert Leland Miyano for the use of their photography. All technical data was taken from the published field notes of Dr. Croat. Our specimen was a gift from aroid grower Enid Offolter of Natural Selections Exotics in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Want to learn more about aroids?
Join the International Aroid Society: http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Join%20IAS.html
Looking for a specimen? Contact
Brian's Botanicals http://www.briansbotanicals.net/