Monday, February 16, 2009

Philodendron 'Xanadu' gone wild!

In December I posted about my new Philodendron 'Xanadu' plant.  This plant has been growing very successfully for me (this time around) for nearly 3 months, which is longer than I kept the other one alive.  Now I know the trick: don't water it - ever.  Well, that's a little harsh.  Don't water it unless you're certain you haven't watered it for a month.

I imagine that trick will get modified slightly when I take the plant outdoors this summer, but for now, that works pretty well.

Recently I discovered that not only can I grow this plant, I can grow this plant like no one else can!  What I mean by that is that my plant has some weird mutations.

Mutation #1:

Two stems of my Xanadu are fused together all the way from the base of the stem to the first lobe of the leaves.  [Xanadu leaves have 6-8 lobes on each side.]

Fused Xanadu leaves and stems
I just checked the photo I took of my Xanadu when I bought it and I can see the 2 fused leaves.  So they were there from the beginning and just slipped my notice until now.

Mutation #2:

The other odd mutation is a small "leaflet" that is rising from the midrib near the base of one of the leaves.  I don't think this leaflet was there from the beginning.

tiny Xanadu leaflet
Neither of these mutations appears anywhere else on the plant.  What are the odds that both of these two mutations would occur on the same plant?  [Don't try to calculate that.]

Mystery solved

I sent pictures and explanations of my two "mutations" to the International Aroid Society mailing list and received a response from none other than Julius Boos.  Julius first described Philodendron 'Xanadu' as a new species back in the Aroideana #25 in 2002.  He said the odd features are common deformations seen in this species and he suspects they are caused by the method by which the plant is propagated and produced.  Millions of these plants are grown by tissue culture and treated with different chemicals.  In volume 31 of Aroideana Julius describes the various chemical treatments that are used on 'Xanadu', their purpose and their suspected side effects.  It turns out that it is not all that rare for either of these deformations to be seen on Xanadus.

Julius said that in time (maybe years) my plant might grow out of the deformations.  I guess he is assuming that I don't care for them.  However, I find them fascinating and the oddity just adds to the appeal of the plant.  I don't really mind if my plant never grows out of them. :)

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