Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron. If you are seeking other photos, click this link
Philodendron tenue K. Koch & Augustin
Philodendron ecuadorense, Philodendron gracile, Philodendron sodiroanum
Philodendron tenue is normally found as a hemiepiphytic climbing vine. A hemiepiphyte (hem-a-EPA-fit) is a species that can begin life by climbing a host tree or as a seed placed on a branch in a bird's droppings that eventually grows roots to the ground. The species is rarely either terrestrial or purely epiphytic. An epiphyte (ep-a-FIT) is simply a species that grows attached to another plant such as a tree.
Philodendron tenue is also an appressed climber, appressed species grow with the leaves pressed close to the host tree. The petioles that support the leaf blades can measure from 29cm to 107cm (11.4 to 42 inches) in length. The species was described to science in 1854,
Philodendron tenue is found from Nicaragua to southern Ecuador on the Pacific slope and in Venezuela along the foothills of the Sierra de Perija through the Cordillera de la Costa as well as in the foothills of the Cordillera de Merida. In Central America it is found from 20 to 1400 meters (65 to 4600 feet) above sea level in pre-mountainous wet rain forests but is rarely found in tropical wet rain forests. In Colombia it has been collected as high as 2300 meters (7500 feet) and in Ecuador to 1930 meters (6300 feet). Obviously, P. tenue is found at many elevations and can be found in both very dry forest as well as tropical wet rain forests. The species is found as far south as central Peru. P. tenue is a member of Philodendron section Philodendron, subsection Philodendron ser. Fibrosa partially due to its persistent cataphyll fibers. The cataphylls are bract like modified leaves that surround a new leaf and whose purpose is to protect the newly emerging leaves as they develop.
A variable species, P. tenue is found in several forms. The form in our photo is known to collectors as the "narrow leaf form". The dark green leaves, which can grow to well over 60cm (two feet) stand atop petioles that can measure between 29 and 107cm (11 to 42 inches) and are vaguely semi-glossy. The blades may also be be oval to triangularly oval with prominent posterior lobes. The blades are considered sub-coriaceous (less than leathery). There are at least two known forms to the leaf, one being much narrower than the other as shown in this specimen. 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 with photographic illustration as well as in non-technical language the botany of natural variation within plant species including morphogenesis. It is estimated that one in every eight plant species known to science is variable: Natural variation
Philodendron tenue is capable of producing four inflorescences per axil on a peduncle that measures between 2 and 11 centimeters in length (3/4 to 11 1/3 inch). (The peduncle is the plant structure that supports the spathe and spadix and is the internode between the spathe and the last foliage leaf. .) The inflorescences are pale green in color, sometimes heavily tinged in red. The spathe is thick and leathery while the fruit berries are purplish in color. Philodendron tenue flowers during the dry season and early portions of the rainy season which in its range is normally January through August. The species produces the majority of its inflorescences during April and May.
A note from Hawaiian grower Leland
Miyano indicates Philodendron tenue grows in his garden
as an epiphyte. Just as the scientific description states, Leland
indicates he is aware of the species being found in many ecozones from
very dry to very wet. That would indicate this species can tolerate a
wide variation in its care in captive growth. He describes the species
as a "Very beautiful species with almost grooved lateral veins."
On the subject of variation within a species, Leland offered these
excellent words of advice,
variable species with wide distributions, it would be a good project for
collectors to record locality data. It is surprising how different
clones respond in cultivation...... disease resistance, growth rates,
and many traits can be observed. even if it is not readily apparent from
the morphologies that the plants are different. Amateurs can make
tremendous contributions to horticulture... especially if the habitats
are subsequently destroyed."
My thanks to Enid Offolter of Natural Selections Exotics for the use of her photograph.
If you are seeking information on other rare species, click on "Aroids and other genera in the Collection" at the top and look for the
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