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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 squamiferum Poepp.& Endl.
Philodendron squamiferum, Photo Copyright Michael Pascall

Philodendron squamiferum Poepp.& Endl.
 

Philodendron squamiferum, Photo Copyright Joep Moonen, French GuianaKnown to exist in the rain forests of French Guiana, Suriname, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru, Philodendron squamiferum (squam-IF-er-um) was described to science in 1845.  An unusual multi-lobed Philodendron, often with 5 distinct lobes, Philodendron squamiferum can develop even more (or less) lobes as it matures to a fully adult specimen.  A variable species, once past the juvenile state with an elongated blade, the lobes are at first a part of a single leaf blade but as the leaf gains size to approximately 30 to 45cm (12 to 18 inches) the lobes become more distinctive.  The adaxial (upper) blade surface is a glossy green while the lower surface is a semi-glossy gray-green.  The species' lobes often become exaggerated and quite uniform in shape but may also "fatten" so as to become less distinctive as can be seen in naturalist Joep Moonen's (pronounced yupe) photograph.  And to add to the interest, the petioles (commonly known as stems) of the Philodendron are a bright red covered with long bristly scales that are often referred to as "hairs".  To a botanist those "hairs" are known as pubescence.  This red pubescence is somewhat similar to that seen on Philodendron verrucosum and a newly described species, Philodendron nangaritense.  Both of those species are described on this website.  Philodendron species, and especially hybrid forms, 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 squamiferum is known to be an epiphytic vine and grows well up into the jungle trees.  The Philodendron squamiferum, Photo Copyright Micqael Pascallspecies was popular as a house plant in the 1950's but after the 1960's  lost its popularity and was not commonly available in cultivation until 2005 when it was reintroduced as a tissue culture (cloned) plant. 

Dutch naturalist Joep Moonen, who resides and works in the rain forest of French Guiana, made these observations regarding Philodendron squamiferum , "This species is one of the prettier Philodendron of the Guianas.  In Suriname it is rare, here in French Guiana it is not common but less rare then in Suriname.  We have them growing here along our Botanic Trail both naturally as well as 'planted' on tree trunks. We have them in flower a few times a year. The species likes to grow in the shade with some sunlight, perhaps an hour filtered sun per day.  The most amazing feature, the 'hairs'. are red in many plants and green in some.  I have never seen a connection between the light level and the color of the 'hairs'.  The adult leaves are about 25 cm, so you can call it a medium size species.  The leaves remain smaller than Philodendron pedatum.  " In a separate email, Joep noted from personal observation, "P. squamiferum also grows in Guyana (formerly British) and AmapÓ State in northern Brazil."

Philodendron squamiferum juvenile, Photo Copyright 2007, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.com

Philodendron squamiferum, like all Philodendron species, morphs as it grows.  The juvenile plants look nothing like the sub adult plants which look little like the adult forms.   The ontogeny of aroid species (morphogenesis) is common and in addition all aroid species are variable.  Simply, not every leaf of every specimen of the same species will look alike.  For an explanation of morphogenesis and natural variation within aroid and other plant species, click this link.

The spathe of P. squamiferum is burgundy with white on the upper portion.  The interior of the spathe is white.  In the rain forest, it is not uncommon for nature to have "assigned" the task of pollination to species such as Philodendron squamiferum to a single species of insect.  In French Guiana botanists have Philodendron squamiferum sub adult, Photo Copyright 2008, Steve Lucas, www.ExoticRainforest.comobserved the inflorescence of Philodendron squamiferum were often frequented by a scarab beetle known to science as Cyclocephala simulatrix and occasionally by Cyclocephala tylifera.  According to personal conversations with aroid botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis it is not uncommon to observe a species of scarab beetle entering the spathe and spadix of an aroid in to pollinate the species.  Typically, the pollination cycle of these beetles last approximately two days according to researchers.  The beetle is apparently drawn to the spadix in to gain food available only during the period the spadix is at anthesis (ready to be pollinated).  Additionally, the pheromone may be a trigger to cause the beetle to find a mate and produce offspring.  Apparently, in addition to the normal pheromones produced to attract an insect pollinator, the inflorescence of Philodendron squamiferum also has a very slight temperature increase when at anthesis and this temperature change also  serves to attract the beetles.  This slight warming actually appears to be the major attractant to both the arrival and departure of the beetles.

Some growers and websites indicate Philodendron squamiferum  needs "abundant water".  They also advise to keep the Philodendron squamiferum petiole with pubescence, Photo Copyright Miichael Pascallsoil moist at all times.  This is a bit confusing since the company that creates the tissue cultured form of P. squamiferum plant says exactly the opposite on their website.  They recommend watering the plant only when the medium in which the Philodendron is planted begins to dry.  We have chosen, after losing quite a few small plants, to grow our Philodendron squamiferum in a very loose soil mixture which contains a moisture control mix along with a large quantity of orchid potting media added.  We deliberately chose to use a mix containing charcoal and hardwood bark in to allow our specimens to duplicate their normal epiphytic habit of attaching roots to wood.  The majority of the year we water thoroughly when the specimens just begin to show signs of beginning to dry. 

However, that may seem somewhat strange since the species is a native to very wet  rain forests.  Apparently the difference is P. squamiferum grows almost exclusively as an epiphyte (ep-a-FIT) and is rarely if ever found growing in soil.  The Philodendron apparently needs to have its roots damp, but never in wet potting media.  But it may also that be the species simply does not like excess water while young since once it is well established the amount of water appears to be less critical.  

Our largest specimen was a gift from grower Steve Marak.  His specimen came from the Missouri Botanical Garden as a cutting  verified and collected by Dr. Tom Croat.  My thanks to Joep Moonen (pronounced yupe) for his contribution and photo as well as to Australian Michael Pascall for the use of his excellent photographs. 

 

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

Want to learn more about aroids?
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