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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 linnaei

Philodendron linnaei

Philodendron decurrens K. Krause, Philodendron nobile W. Bull,
Philodendron notabile
hort. ex W. Bull

May be confused with Philodendron insigne

Click here to see Philodendron insigne


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 Philodendron linnaei, Photo Copyright 2008, Joep Moonen, French Guianaepiphytic 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 Philodendron linnaei stems, roots, petioles, Photo Copyright 2009, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comcollected 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). 

Philodendron linnaei, Photo Copyright 2009, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comThe 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.  Philodendron linnaei runner, Photo Copyright 2009, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comIt 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 Philodendron linnaei inflorescence, Photo Copyright 2998, Leland Miyanoin color but may be longer on a plant's runner. 

All Philodendron 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 modified leaf appearing to be a hood whose purpose is to protect the spadix at the center.  Both the inside and the outside of the spathe of Philodendron linnaei 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.

Once ready to be pollinated tiny true flowers (female, male and sterile) can be found on the spadix at the center of
the inflorescence once the plant reaches sexual anthesis.  Anthesis within Philodendron species is normally a two day process with the female flowers being produced in the late afternoon or evening on day one while the male flowers are produced on Philodendron linnaei, Abaxial leaf surface (underside), Photo Copyright 2009, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comday two.  Nature stages the flower development in an effort to prevent self pollination thus keeping the species strong.  The female flowers are not easily seen since they are produced inside the floral chamber at the bottom of the spathe.  You can see the floral chamber in the photo left (above) at the point where the spathe crosses over to encircle the spadix.   After female anthesis is completed the spadix produces the male flowers which produce pollen as well as sterile male flowers.  The sterile male flowers produce a pheromone (perfume) that is used by the plant to attract insect pollinators and are also eaten by those insects since they are rich in lipids (protein).  If the female flowers are pollinated by an appropriate insect, normally a beetle found within the genus Cyclocephala , they will in time produce white berries containing seeds.  The spadix of Philodendron linnaei is reddish changing to white.  

Philodendron linnaei new leaf and leaf bud, Photo Copyright 2998, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comMonkeys, 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 please read:  Natural pollination in aroids

A rain forest species, Philodendron linnaei requires regular and abundant moisture but should not be allowed to become water logged.  We have repotted our specimen in a mixture of 50% orchid potting media, 20% peat, 15% good soil, with a balance of Perlite™. The species should do well in a hanging orchid basket with the roots packed in high quality sphagnum moss.  Philodendron linnaei is likely to prosper if not kept in wet soil but instead in a well drained soil Philodendron linnaei, Photo Copyright 2008, Joep Moonen, Frnehc Cuianamixture or very fast draining orchid basket.

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  (a service of the Royal Botanic Garden Kew in London.  Many aroid species can also be verified on the International Aroid Society website

Philodendron species are known to be highly variable and not every leaf of every specimen
will always appear the same. This link explains in greater detail natural variation and morphogenesis, also known in science as ontogeny.   At least two natural variations of the species Philodendron linnaei are known to science.  Morphing is very commonly seen Philodendron linnaei, Photo Copyright 2007, Joep Moonenin Philodendron species.  Click here.

The photos of wild Philodendron linnaei specimens on this page are from the collection of my friend aroid expert Joep Moonen in French Guiana. If you would Joep Moonen, Emerald Jungle Village, French Guiana, Photo Copyright 2008 Bernie Moonenenjoy spending time in a rain forest filled with exotic creatures and extremely rare plant species while being introduced to that jungle by an expert guide who is fluent in many languages, Joep escorts visitors almost daily into the rain forest of northeast South America. He and his family own an eco-tour village in French Guiana known as the Emerald Jungle Village. His website can be found at:

For eco-tour information and an Emerald Jungle Village brochure contact Joep at

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.


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