Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron. If you are seeking other photos, click this link:
Philodendron subincisum Schott
Often incorrectly known as
Philodendron subincisum is a beautiful climber that grows big, really big! In the summer of 2006 a collector asked if he could a cutting of my Philodendron wilsonii. I'm obsessed with knowing the correct botanical name of my plants and enjoy researching details of the plants I collect and grow. I had known this plant as Philodendron wilsonii for years, but had never bothered to look it up in a botanical journal. I decided it was time I finally look this one up just to be sure of its history. The name Philodendron wilsonii did not show up in any scientific data base! It could not be found on TROPICOS or IPNI (The International Plant Names Index). Nor could it be found in any botanical journal or text in my library. I was stunned!
The name Philodendron wilsonii was all over the internet. Many sites, including some you would expect to have done their homework had it listed by that name, and they italicized it just as if it was a scientific name. It isn't! Had I been using the wrong name for this plant for years? Were all the other collectors I know who have the same species using the wrong name? It was time to find out!
I sent a photo of my plant to Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Dr. Croat is recognized as the leading authority in Philodendron and Anthurium species in North America. Dr. Croat came back and asked for a detailed close-up of the petiole. He then responded saying the correct botanical name for the species is Philodendron subincisum, and there is no such plant as P. wilsonii!
Philodendron subincisum has a very glossy leaf that grows on an approximately 2 inch (5cm) stem (cane). The inset photo which was furnished by Fort Myers, FL grower Joe Wright, shows how large the plant can grow once it catches and climbs any tree (look at the satellite dish for a size comparison). Joe says this Philodendron was an "escapee" from his nearby greenhouse and just took off once it caught the tree. As I said, this Philodendron gets big! All you need do to start a new plant is cut off the top of a cane with enough air root and stick it in the soil. In addition to Joe's photo I have seen this species in Miami climbing well up into the branches of very large trees. Philodendron subincisum loves shade but will tolerate bright indirect light. Give it lots of water and well draining soil. But remember, according to all the databases and Dr. Croat, this plant is not Philodendron wilsonii. That name is said by Dr. Croat to have originated from the late Bob Wilson, owner of Fantastic Gardens, then passed around as the horticultural name. The correct name for the species is Philodendron subincisum, and the plant is endemic to Mexico.
Philodendron subincisum is found near Veracruz in the Poza Rica region at elevations of less than 1,600 feet (500 meters). According to the plant's technical scientific description, "Philodendron subincisum is apparently rare having been collected only once". In South Florida it is hardly "rare". According to a personal email from Dr. Croat the species was originally collected by botanist George Bunting in Mexico and cultivated at Cornell. Bunting had many friends in the Miami area and apparently gave away cuttings to people in the area, one of which was the parent of my plant.
All Philodendron species are aroids. An aroid is a plant that reproduces by producing an inflorescence known to science as a spathe and spadix. The spadix is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis which can produce tiny flowers. Most people believe the spathe is a "flower", it is not. The spathe is simply a specially modified leaf appearing to be a hood whose purpose is to protect the spadix at the center. On the spadix at the center of the inflorescence there can be found very tiny flowers when the plant is at anthesis. When ready to reproduce, the spadix produces male, female and sterile flowers which if pollinated by an appropriate insect, normally a beetle, will produce berries containing seeds.
The story of how this species came into the Exotic Rainforest collection is somewhat interesting. Janice and I used to drive all over South Florida to find new plants. One of the busiest drives in the southern part of Miami is SW 116th St. Not a lot of plant sellers on that street but we had seen a sign with "plants for sale" on the side of the road many times near where one of our daughters went to high school. We never stopped. One morning the sign had changed. It read "Must Sell Everything ". We stopped.
The lady's old broken down home had been sold by court to a builder who was going to build million dollar homes on her prime real estate. Her yard wasn't landscaped, but it was filled with large Philodendron, Monstera, Heliconia and other plant species. They all had to be dug up or meet the fate of a bulldozer! I've always had a soft spot for large leaf Philodendron sp. and she had a bed filled with one she called Philodendron wilsonii that also were climbing her trees. Each leaf was close to 3 feet (90cm)! She almost shouted, "dig it yourself, $20." Well, that's not "", like her sign said, but I had never seen the plant for sale so out came a $20 dollar bill and off came my coat! I can't count how many new plants we have grown from that start in the years since. At one time we had 6 or 7 large plant groups in our yard in Miami all grown for that single $20 plant.
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 non-technical language natural variation and morphogenesis within aroids and other. Click here.
Want to learn more about aroids?
Join the International Aroid Society: http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Join%20IAS.html
|Back to Plants in Collection|