Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron. If you are seeking other photos, click this link
Philodendron brandtianum K Krause
Often thought to be as well as sold as
Philodendron variifolium Schott
Philodendron brandtianum is found in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil,
Ecuador and portions of Colombia. The species is an appressed
climbing vine growing close to the host tree. Philodendron
brandtianum is often confused with Philodendron variifolium but the
true Philodendron variifolium is found almost exclusively
in Peru with one scientific collection recorded in Bolivia. Based
on information received from aroid botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat
Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany of the Missouri Botanical
Garden in St. Louis (the world's leading aroid scientist),
Philodendron brandtianum and Philodendron variifolium
are botanically two completely different and dissimilar species
despite information found on the internet.
This is a part of my exchange with Dr. Croat: "I think that what most people are calling Philodendron variifolium Schott is really P. brandtianum K. Krause, an appressed-climbing hemiepiphyte which when juvenile has blades that are variously variegated with gray. Somehow Graf got a picture of this in Exotica 3 and labeled it P. variifolium. The type of P. variifolium is a more or less 3-lobed species which was collected at the same sight as P. deflexum and indeed was one of three competing plants all with the same number competing for the name P. deflexum Poeppig. It is actually possible, I believe, that the real P. variifolium is really P. deltoideum. Marcela Mora and I have a paper on this subject in press."
Dr. Croat then
sent this note after reviewing my photo (left). Hopefully this will
help correct the confusion caused as a result of Mr. Graf's error in
his book Exotica 3. Despite the popularity of Mr. A. B. Graf's
books, he was a horticulturist and did not have the
scientific training of a botanist. His texts have been found to
have multiple scientific name errors. Dr. Croat wrote
regarding the juvenile specimen shown on this page, "I
would say this is P. brandtianum. It ranges from Central Brazil to
lowland Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The variegation disappears in
the adult plants."
Very different when compared to the juvenile form, the leaf blades of the adult leaf of Philodendron brandtianum are subcoriaceous (less than leathery to the touch) and are a dark green as well as semi-glossy on the adaxial (upper) surface. The blades do not have the variegation of the juvenile. The underside of the leaf blade is semi-glossy but paler in color. The adult blade's underside is the same color throughout (concolorous). Juvenile plants are noticeably variegated with light and darker greens. In the wild, Philodendron brandtianum must climb to a substantial height in to develop the large leaves as well as produce an inflorescence.
The cataphylls which surround any newly emerging leaf blade are sharply single ribbed and a medium green in color. The cataphylls are bract like modified leaves that surround and protect the newly emerging leaves and are the singular most important identifying characteristic of an aroid. The cataphylls are deciduous and soon fall from the plant. The petioles which support the leaf blades are terete (round) and are a dark green in color.
The photos at the top of this page as well as to the right (below) are from the collection of Enid and Sam Offolter at Natural Selections Exotics in Fort Lauderdale. A similar specimen to the juvenile shown above was judged "Most Unusual Aroid" at the 2005 International Aroid Society Show and Sale at Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami, FL. It won that award using the name Philodendron variifolium.
All Philodendron species are aroids. An aroid is a plant that reproduces by producing an inflorescence known to science as a spathe and spadix. Many believe the spathe is a "flower" but it is not. The spathe is simply a modified leaf appearing to be a hood . When an aroid is referred to as "flowering" the reference is to the very small flowers found on the spadix. The reference has nothing to do with the spathe. Within the inflorescence there are extremely small flowers found on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence. The inflorescence, which is sometimes shaped like a tube and often known by collectors as a "flower" is the spathe and inside that is the spadix. When ready to reproduce, the spadix produces both male, female and sterile flowers which if pollinated will produce the berries containing seeds.
The spathe of Philodendron brandtianum is a medium to dark green and is a dark violet purple on the interior. An adult specimen produces a single spathe per axil. The spathe is semi-glossy and is supported on a short peduncle that is dark green. A peduncle is the internode between the spathe and the last foliage leaf. As pointed out by Dr. Croat the adult plant must climb approximately 10 meters (over 30 feet) and grow out onto the host tree's branches and become pendent (hang) for another 3 or more meters (10 feet) before it will produce an inflorescence. The spathe of Philodendron variifolium (which is not the same species as Philodendron brandtianum) is yellowish in color.
Philodendron brandtianum has proven it can become deciduous (drop its leaves) and does not enjoy excess water during the winter months even though it does enjoy damp and humid conditions during the hot growing season. As a result, we cut the water back from November through March.
Philodendron species are known to be highly variable and not every leaf of every specimen will always appear the same. This link explains natural variation and morphogenesis within aroid and other species. Click here
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