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Aroids and other genera in the Collection      Take the Tour Now?     Orchids

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 rugosum Bogner & G.S. Bunting 
Commonly called Naugahyde Philodendron or "Pig Skin" Philodendron

 Philodendron rugosum, Photo Copyright 2008, Steve Lucas,


Philodendron rugosum Bogner & G.S. Bunting
Common names: Naugahyde Philodendron, "Pig Skin" Philodendron

Not described to science until 1983, Philodendron rugosum is now officially designated as a "near threatened" species.  A member of section Oligospermum,  the species is found only in the pre-mountainous rain forests of Ecuador and is most commonly found in the province of Pastaza..  This unusual Philodendron grows in the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 1,000 to 1,700 meters (3,000 to 5,000 feet).  Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis originally examined the species in the wild in 1979 and has collected Philodendron rugosum in the Morona-Santiago vicinity of southeastern Ecuador.  Dr. Croat published a treatment of the species in Aroideana, Volume 7, #1 in 1984.  Aroideana is the journal of the International Aroid Society.
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 the scientific principle of natural variation and morphogenesis.  Click here.
Philodendron rugosum normally grows as an epiphyte (ep-a-FIT) or hemiepiphyte (hem-a-EPA-fit) on a rain forest tree.  Hemipiphytes are similar to epiphytes in they grow attached to a tree but may also begin life in the ground and climb the host.  Hemipiphytes may also begin life as a seed in a bird's dropping on a tree branch and then send roots down to the soil.  However, in his article appearing in Aroideana, Dr. Croat described the species as sometimes being epipetric.  Epipetric species are plants capable of growing on rocks. Grower Leland Miyano in Hawaii reports the species will even grow as a terrestrial plant in mud (see photo below, right).  The species is reported by collectors to be adaptable, yet care should be given to insure the species is well cared for since it is, according TROPICOS, a service of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, now a "red lined" species and is very near being classified as endangered.
The leaf blades are moderately coriaceous (thick and leathery) and heavily textured with the look of leather.  The leather appearance is seen as "grain" on the surface of the leaf blade and is composed of countless fine veins or veinlets that serve to produce the appearance of a pig's skin, or naugahyde.  Thus the common names "Naugahyde Philodendron" or "Pigskin Philodendron".  The texture, along with the bright green color, often gives Philodendron rugosum the look of plastic rather than a living specimen.  Some growers have reported specimens with much darker green leaf blades, especially in the wild.
All Philodendron species are aroids.  An aroid is a plant that reproduces by growing an inflorescence known to science as a spathe and spadix.  Some believe the spathe is a "flower" which is incorrect.  The spathe is a modified leaf that appears as a hood.   The spadix is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis which can produce tiny flowers.  When an aroid is referred to as "flowering" the reference is to the very small flowers found on the spadix when the plant is ready to reproduce and has nothing to do with the spathe.   Within the inflorescence there are extremely small flowers found on the spadix during anthesis (sexual reproduction).  The spadix is found at the center of the inflorescence and appears somewhat like a rough rod.  When ready to be pollinated the spadix produces both male, female and sterile flowers and if the female flowers are pollinated with pollen brought by an appropriate Cyclocephala beetle from another plant which is at male anthesis the plant will be pollinated.  Once pollinated, the spadix will produce berries containing seeds.  The female flowers of Philodendron species are hidden from view within a closed area of the spathe known as the floral chamber while the male flowers may be found along the upper portion of the spadix.  The species normally has two inflorescences per axil but is capable of producing up to six inflorescences at one time.  The spathe tube is maroon to red on the outside and typically measures 8 to 12cm (3.15 to 4.7 inches) in length.  The spadix is up to 10cm (3.95 inches) in length.
Considered relatively easy to grow, Philodendron rugosum can be maintained as a houseplant if you are fortunate enough to locate a specimen.  Large specimens often bring a handsome price.  Some growers indicate P. rugosum is slow growing but that is likely due to inadequate light.  Our specimens grows at a relatively rapid rate.  Experienced growers often recommend collectors keep the species well away from air-conditioning and insure the potting medium is both well draining and constantly moist.  We prefer a soil mixture composed of good soil, extra peat moss, Perlite™, and hard wood orchid potting media containing charcoal, bark and gravel.  The orchid media gives the roots something to which they can attach as would be natural in the wild.  For some reason, Philodendron rugosum is not often divided and offered for sale.  However, at times in the past, the species has been tissue cultured making some specimens more readily available.

The blades of our specimen were approximately 23cm (9 inches) when acquired in the summer of 2007.  A second specimen in the same pot has leaves of less than 8cm (3 inches).  However, since both were put in a single pot, each specimens has grown at least 15cm (six inches).  No scientific literature can be located with an average petiole length but the longest petiole on our specimens measure approximately 40.5cm (16 inches).  The petioles of the species are medium green.  There is no noticeable reason for the extra growth with the exception the increased rate occurred in the hottest portion of the year.  I hesitant to suggest increasing the heat surrounding any Ecuadorian species but the specimens show little growth during the cool of the year.  In Ecuador, leaves measuring 60cm (2 feet) have been reported.  The internodes of Philodendron rugosum are 6cm long (2.35 inches) and 2.2cm (.96 inches) in diameter.  The blades are semi-glossy.   
Philodendron rugosum needs bright, slightly diffused light for best growth best.  Aroid expert Leland Miyano who lives on the island of Oahu offered these growing suggestions, "The cultural requirements of Philodendron rugosum are easy in Hawaiian conditions. I grow it both in deep shade and full sun with copious rainfall.  If grown in shade, it grows very slowly. It increases growth rates as the light levels intensify. Remember that I am on the cloudy, wet windward side of Oahu so our full sun levels are not as intense as the lee of the island where the hotter sun would probably burn the leaves.  I would say that a light shade with long photoperiods would be optimum for this species along with adequate watering.  I am growing it only as a terrestrial so I do not have to water.  I do not have an irrigation system and I rely on natural rainfall, 60-100 inches depending on the year."  Hawaiian grower Windy Aubrey, who has also had good success with the species states, "I have found them to grow a little faster when I grow them in a New Zealand moss mix and they like to be really moist unlike a lot of other Philodendron".  We have given both specimens significantly more water during the summer heat.  The increased moisture may have contributed to the increased growth.  As a result of Leland's suggestion we have moved our specimens to significantly brighter light.

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