Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron. If you are seeking other photos, click this link
Philodendron pedatum (Hook.) Kunth
Synonyms: Philodendron quericifolium, Philodendron laciniatum, Philodendron amazonicum
Philodendron laciniosum, Caladium pedatum, Dracontium laciniatum
Described in 1841, as an adult Philodendron pedatum is an unusual multi-lobed Philodendron that has received many scientific names due to the myriad of leaf shapes the species naturally produces. Botanists have mistaken Philodendron pedatum for a plant that is yet to be named as a result of its extremely variable growth forms. At one time botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker thought Philodendron pedatum was a Caladium and many data bases still list the specie's basionym (true scientific name) as Caladium pedatum. The basionym is the original name applied to the taxon: "basio-" from the Latin: "basis" from the Greek "bainein", meaning "step", and "-nym" from the Latin "nomen" meaning "name". It is the first step in the naming process. In many instances the name was found to be synonymous but had the incorrect genus placement.
Despite all the names collectors bestow on the species, the accepted scientific name is, according to the International Plant Names Index and TROPICOS, Philodendron pedatum. Still, many collectors insist on having it tagged as Philodendron quericifolium, Philodendron laciniatum or just as frequently some "unknown" species. The species Philodendron pedatum occurs naturally in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Guiana, Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil.
All Philodendron sp. are aroids. An aroid is a plant that reproduces via the production of an inflorescence known to science as a spathe and spadix. Most people think the spathe is a "flower" but instead it includes many very tiny flowers that grow along the spadix. Despite it's appearance the spathe is not a "flower" but is simply a modified leaf appearing to be a hood . If you explore the inflorescence with a magnifying glass when it is ready to be pollinated at sexual anthesis there are very tiny flowers that can be found on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence. The inflorescence, which is sometimes shaped like a tube, is made of several parts. The portion that appears to be the "flower" is the spathe and inside that is the spadix which somewhat resembles an elongated pine cone. The spadix is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis which can produce tiny flowers.
When ready to reproduce, the spadix produces both male, female and sterile male flowers. Within a chamber at the base of the Philodendron spathe known as the floral chamber the female and sterile male flowers are hidden. The tiny male flowers further up on the spadix produce pollen and the tiny female flowers are designed to be receptive to pollen. However, Philodendron species are cleverly divided by nature into zones to keep the plant from being self pollinated. Nature's preferred method is to have insects (Scarab beetles from the genus Cyclocephala) pick up the pollen from the male flowers on one plant and carry it to another plant at female anthesis in order to keep the species strong. The peduncle (which supports the inflorescence of Philodendron pedatum) as well as the spathe are described as being medium green as well as densely lineate on the peduncle and back side of spathe. A peduncle is the internode between the spathe and the last foliage leaf. Lineate is defined as being marked longitudinally with depressed parallel lines. The spathe blade's margins (edges) are purple and the inner surface is a greenish white which is tinged with a dark maroon at bottom of the spathe tube on the inside.
In the summer of 2008 a collector looking for a name for his Philodendron posted a leaf blade photo and a vine photo on the University of British Colombia Botanical Garden plant discussion website. People guessed Florida Beauty, Philodendron elegans and other possible names. But the last time someone sent the link asking for the correct name only one person had ventured the correct scientific name! The ontogeny (natural growth) of the species as well as natural variation are the causes!
Few study natural variation as it is understood by the world's best aroid botanists and even fewer grasp the concept. As a result I decided to do an experiment and verify my own speculation that the plant on UBC was truly Philodendron pedatum. I asked several of the world's best aroid experts including the top aroid botanist in the world, Dr. Thomas B. Croat Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis Tom Croat. I sent each of them the same link I had received and just as I had suspected, the plant was indeed Philodendron pedatum. These are their responses: Dr. Tom Croat: Philodendron pedatum, aroid expert Leland Miyano: Philodendron pedatum, and Dutch naturalist Joep Moonen: Philodendron pedatum. For a scientific verification please see the photo on this scientific link: http://www.tropicos.org/name/2103303
Until collectors begin to understand and accept the science of natural variation such a discussions will likely go on without end and collectors just won't learn the names of the species they have in their collection, especially if the plants are midway though the process of ontogeny (natural changes in growth). If you haven't already, Look at the photos just on this page and take the time to read our link discussion of natural variation within species. Click here.
An epiphytic vine, Philodendron pedatum will show its natural beauty best if allowed to climb something tall. But in cultivation the leaves are unlikely to ever reach their fully mature state. Like many Philodendron species, the blade shape collectors are accustomed to seeing appears nothing like the fully adult form. The leaves of our specimen of Philodendron pedatum, which came from Windy Aubrey in Hawaii, are still juvenile but the lobes will eventually become much narrower as the blades mature. In May, 2007 the blades measured approximately 18cm (7 inches). Even in our "rain forest" it is unlikely the specimen will ever reach the fully mature state as can be seen in Joep's (pronounced yupe) photographs.
The inset photos, provided by Dutch naturalist Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe), show a fully mature specimen in the jungles of French Guiana. Joep believes this species was one of the parents of the very odd Philodendron he discovered in the jungles of the Guiana Shield currently known as Philodendron 'joepii' (see that plant on this website). All you need do is look closely at the adult form of P. pedatum as compared to P. 'joepii' to see the resemblance.
With internodes 8 to 15cm long (3.25 to 6 inches) apart, the leaf blades of P. pedatum are a medium to dark green tinged with a slight maroon or brown. Philodendron pedatum has an extremely wide distribution and can be found in rain forest regions from the extreme southern portions of Central America throughout Colombia, Venezuela, the entire Guiana Shield and deep into Brazil. In the western portion of South America the species can be seen through Ecuador into portions of Peru and Bolivia.
If you actually wish to see this species, and many more, in the jungles of French Guiana, our friend Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe) introduces people to those exotic rain forests almost daily. For an Emerald Jungle Village eco-tour brochure contact Joep at EmeraldJungleVillage@wanadoo.fr
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