Monday, December 26, 2011

Plant Find: Latest Aglaonema Additions

Aglaonemas are known for their patterned foliage with several shades of green, white and silver.  In Thailand, breeders are constantly creating new Aglaonemas with pink and red in the leaves.  Personally, I'm not a fan of these hybrids and I don't collect any of those.  These hybrids get their red coloration from a natural species, Aglaonema rotundum.

My collection is made up of the more natural-looking Aglaonemas, even though many of them are hybrids.  One of my most recent finds is a variegated form where there are white patches overlaying the green pattern.  The plant was sold to me as variegated Aglaonema 'Silver Queen.'  However, the leaf pattern does not match the common 'Silver Queen', which has lanceolate leaves with a primarily silver coloration and thin streaks of dark green mixed in.

variegated Aglaonema, possibly Aglaonema 'Manila'
variegated Aglaonema, possibly Aglaonema 'Manila'


Most Aglaonemas have green petioles (stems).  Some have white and then there are a few that have either pink or russet.  I believe that russet is a mix of pink and green - kind of a brown potato color.  I think these petioles are really neat looking and this is the first Aglaonema I have had with the russet petioles.  (See the image below.)  This is yet another clue that this plant does not come from the common 'Silver Queen', but from something else entirely.  Most likely this mystery will never be solved for me.

Aglaonema Queen - variegated petioles
Russet petioles of variegated Aglaonema


There are many Aglaonemas in my office building, maintained by a company that checks on them regularly and switches the plants out when they start to look ratty.  There is one Aglaonema that I have admired for a while and I recently got a stem of it to grow myself.  I have no idea what the name is.  The distinguishing features are the dark coloration of the leaves, which are somewhat lanceolate.  It looks similar to a plant I saw at the IAS show called 'Shades.'  The lighter shades of green are also in an unusual pattern.

Aglaonema - dark from work
unidentified Aglaonema from my office, possibly Aglaonema 'Shades'


The last recent addition to my Aglaonema collection is one which grows as a creeping rhizome, which is different from my other Aglaonemas, which grown on an upright stem.  This plant was sold to me as Aglaonema costatum f. immaculatum.  I sent a photo to my friend, Peter Boyce, who is a career taxonomist in Malaysia.  He told me the plant is actually Aglaonema brevispathum, a member of the Chamaecaulon section, which has this characteristic growth habit.  He studied these plants in the field from Myanmar through Thailand to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, in lowland dry dipterocarp forest, often along on river banks.   How lucky am I to have Peter to answer my questions!?!  That's one of the great things about the IAS.  There are people who have very extensive knowledge and a great willingness to share that knowledge.

Aglaonema brevispathum
Aglaonema brevispathum


I was a little worried that I would have trouble growing this particular plant, since it differs from the ones that I know grow well in my care.  But it seems to be doing well, enjoying the environment of my greenhouse and putting out some new leaves.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mounted orchids

I have a number of mounted orchids in my collection now, so I thought I would post about those orchids specifically, even if some of them have been shared before.

dock_cucumerina
Dockrillia cucumerina - back when I first got it.

The first is my "cucumber" orchid, Dockrillia cucumeria, which I purchased in February.  It started to get crispy outside in our scorching 100+ days from June to August. I brought it inside, where it seemed to be happier, but it couldn't recover from the heat, and eventually died. I am finding that the mounted orchids (not surprisingly) dry out more quickly than the potted orchids.  This is good and bad.  It is more similar to the natural habitats of epiphytic orchids, but it also requires that I stay on top of watering.  With these mounted orchids inside, it is pretty easy to do.  I have been keeping a couple of these hanging in the bathroom window and the kitchen window, where sinks are readily available and where I am seeing them several times a day. I will try to obtain another of these little cucumbers, because it really was a favorite of mine.

den_lichenastrum
Dendrobium lichenastrum var. prenticei mounted on cork bark


I have one other of these small, succulent type orchids, Dendrobium lichenastrum v. prenticei. This one is also mounted on a piece of small cork bark. Where as the previous plant looked like little cucumbers, this one is smooth and has yellow flowers when it blooms. So far it has been doing well in our kitchen window, with about 5 other mounted orchids. I see this constantly and water them when I am washing dishes.

den_pachyphyllum
Dendrobium pachyphyllum


My Dendrobium pachyphyllum is a new addition that is mounted on a compressed fern slab.  This stringy glob of orchid won me over on three accounts: 1. It has that stringy, "don't try to tame me" look. 2. It is kind of woody, which has a permanence and toughness that I really like. 3.  It's a Dendrobium species.  While Dendrobiums are one of the more common orchids you can find (2nd to Phalaenopsis in terms of grocery store prominence), there is a HUGE variety of Dendrobiums and I am collecting some of the more obscure ones.  The flowers of this Dendrobium are discrete little short-lived light pink blooms that come along the stems all over the plant - a prolific bloomer.  They are supposed to smell sweet.

encyclia_polybulbon
Encyclia polybulbon - photographed in April, when I first got the plant


These next two plants (above and below) were the first mounted orchids I purchased.  Both are mounted on a simple slat of wood, with sphagnum moss wrapped around the roots.  The plant above is the first Encyclia in my collection.  It hasn't bloomed yet, but it has been growing steadily this summer and I understand that it blooms from fall to early spring.  So I am hoping to keep it happy in the coming months and be rewarded with the first blooms.

sedirea_japonica
Sedirea japonica - photographed in April, when I first got the plant


This is one of the few fragrant orchids in my collection.  Sedirea japonica is noted for it's really  unique small white blooms with purple bars.  These blooms tend to hang below the plant and are supposed to smell amazing.  My plant didn't bloom this summer when it should have, so I am hoping for a bloom next year.

panarica_brassavolae
Panarica brassavolae


The genus Panarica is closely related to (often tagged as) Encyclia.  So I actually bought this plant with the name Encyclia brassavolae.  This one is mounted on a heavy and thick piece of wood that the seller called a "cedar plaque."  There is some media that might be coconut fiber/husk or something like that, so that some water can be absorbed and held near the roots whenever I water this one.  I might have to modify this and add some sphagnum moss since I suspect my humidity is too low to keep the plant happy with this mount.  The flowers of this species are really cool.  Picture an anorexic yellow starfish wearing a white hat with a pink feather in it.  Or just look at this picture and make up your own analogy.

bulb_clandestinum
Bulbophyllum clandestinum 'Elizabeth'


The plant pictured above was on my want list for a while.  I kept seeing really nice specimen-sized (large) plants available on eBay and they would go for big bucks (>$40).  I held out until I got a smaller plant for about $10.  This is a neat plant because of how it wanders and the blooms are born all along the creeping rhizome, unlike most Bulbophyllums which have long blooms spikes with lots of blooms clustered together.  I also like the woody look of the stems.  My plant is a collection of 2 or 3 cuttings tied to a twig raft.

brassavola_nodosa
Brassavola nodosa.  That chalky appearance is fertilizer build-up from the previous owner.


The orchid pictured above was actually collected in the jungles of Belize years ago (when it was legal to do such things).  It is a common orchid among collectors, Brassavola nodosa and is mounted on a slab of cypress wood.

cattleya_mounted
Cattleya hybrid (Catt. John Hannington x Catt. Empress Bells 'White Sands') - self mount


This Cattleya pictured above is the one orchid I have which I mounted myself.  I received the orchid as a gift when I joined the Oklahoma Orchid Society.  It was a tiny little plant.  To be honest, I'm not a big Cattleya guy myself.  It was a little plant and I had a piece of drift wood that I wasn't using, so I thought, "What they heck!  Let me give it a try."  It has been doing pretty well on the driftwood.  It survived our scorching summer heat, so that's a good sign.

enc_tampensis
Encyclia tampensis


While we were in Florida, I was on a mission to purchase some Encyclias, especially the well-known Florida-native "Butterfly Orchid", Encyclia tampensis. I saw many of these growing wild in the Everglades and then I found a really nice one mounted on tree fern at Ruben in Orchids.  It looks as though it had bloomed on at least 3 different spikes recently and it was well rooted into the mount.

enc_randii_good
Encyclia randii


A good friend of mine attended the recent American Orchid Society show in San Antonio at the end of October. While he was there, he scoped out the available stock of orchids and aroids and sent me some information on plants I like to grow. He was generous enough to purchase two Encyclias for me and drop them by my house on his way home to Arkansas. Both of these little Encyclias are fragrant when in bloom and mounted on little wood planks by Oak Hill Gardens - one of my favorite orchid sellers.

enc_cordigera_good
Encyclia cordigera


About a month ago my parents-in-law returned from a trip with a couple of orchids for me and one that my mother-in-law was keeping for herself (or so I thought).  In actuality, she was keeping the last orchid for my birthday. But she showed it to me at the time - in bloom - and held on to it until my birthday to give it to me. I'm glad I took a nice picture of it in bloom at the time! This is a really neat TINY hybrid with the name Ornithocephalis iridifolius x Zygostatus alleniana.  That "iridifolius" part means that the foliage looks like an iris.  It has that characteristic fan appearance, but on a very tiny scale.


Ornithocephalis iridifolius x Zygostatus alleniana
Ornithocephalis iridifolius x Zygostatus alleniana mounted on cork bark - photo taken about a month ago.


max_variabilis_mounted
Maxillaria variabilis mounted on native bark


Jason gave me a division of his Maxillaria variabilis a couple months back. I decided to try mounting it on a section of bark I had from a local tree. I don't know of anyone doing this. My guess is that the people don't do it because you need a really durable bark that won't break down over time, so there are only a few options available. This mount will probably not last a long time, but it's worth a shot, in my opinion. For now, the orchid is just laying on top of the bark, with a wad of sphagnum moss on top of the roots. Hopefully in a couple of months the roots will have bitten into the bark.  My favorite thing about this little orchid?  It has been blooming non-stop, since I got it.

den_stenophyllum
Dendrochilum stenophyllum mounted on PVC


Now we make it to the fifteenth and final mounted orchid in my collection.  Last, but certainly not least.  This is Dendrochilum stenophyllum, one of the "chain orchids."  According to the wikipedia page, "These orchids are popular among fans of non-traditional orchid curiosities."  I guess that sums up my interest, huh?  Anyway, this species is notable for it's very grass-like foliage and it's miniscule flowers which grow on a stem about the length of the leaves.  My plant is mounted on a piece of canvas wrapped around a section of PVC pipe.  I think it's a curious mounting system.  The really good part is that the PVC holds up over time and won't be slowly breaking down.  However, the canvas has long since broken down, leaving the PVC very exposed.  I don't mind the white showing, but I might try to cover it up at some point in the future.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sacred Bodhi Tree

As legend has it, the founder of the Buddhist faith, Siddhartha Gautama, gained his enlightenment after meditating for 49 days underneath a tree.  That tree, for obvious reasons, has been sacred to the Buddhist faith ever since.  In many ways it is equivalent to the cross on which Christ was crucified.  Some old Christian churches claim to have pieces of the original cross and those pieces are considered holy relics.

The Bodhi tree is unique in that it is a living relic, so it continues to spread throughout the world over time.  The Bodhi tree has been given many names including "Bo tree" and "pipal tree."  These names are used in reference to the original tree, as well as all trees of that species.  The Latin for this species is Ficus religiosa.  It is a large Banyan, fig tree.  The original tree was located in northeastern India, near the border with Nepal.  Since then, the tree has been propagated to several different locations, resulting in a chain of highly-revered trees which have a tie to world history.  One of the famous propagated trees is in the Foster Botanical Gardens in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Christie and I visited that garden in May 2009 and saw the gigantic Buddha tree.

Recently the tree growing in the Foster Botanical Garden began to set seed.  In Hawaii, this is worthy of concern, as the tree could become invasive, if the seedlings are not removed while they are small.  My good friend, Leland, who has ties to the Foster Botanical Garden, obtained some of these seedlings and sent them to me.

Ficus religiosa
Ficus religiosa leaf


The leaves of this tree are beautiful: cordate with an extended tip, giving them an unmistakable appearance.

Ficus religiosa
Ficus religiosa sapling

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Update on Silver Buttonwood cuttings

I wrote about my cuttings of Silver Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus) in my Florida acquisitions post a couple of weeks ago.  It has now been about 7 weeks since I prepared my cuttings and put them into the sealed container of vermiculite.  I have uncapped the top a couple of times to check and see how they were doing, removing any dead leaves from the stems, but otherwise leaving them alone.  The good news is that only a couple of leaves have fallen off the cuttings and they seem to be pretty happy.  The cuttings that I put directly in water began to rot within a couple of days and they quickly lost all of their leaves.  So I was feeling pretty good about my sealed container of cuttings.

Silver Buttonwood cutting with one root starting
Silver Buttonwood cutting with one root starting


Last night I decided it was time to pluck one of the cuttings and see if there was any root growth started.  I was expecting either a bunch of tiny, fibrous roots or nothing.  This is based solely on my past experiences with rooting semi-hardwood cuttings.  What I found, instead, was one thick little root starting.  Not fibrous by any stretch of the imagination.

First root emerging from a Silver Buttonwood cutting
First root emerging from a Silver Buttonwood cutting


I'm really happy to see this root emerging and now I have an idea about the rate of growth.  7 weeks = 1/2 cm.  Pretty slow.  However, it's possible that the root really just started to emerge recently and will grow much quicker now that it has started.  It's also possible that these cuttings want something different - substrate, light, temperature, water.  Who knows.  I'm glad I'm getting some results.

I carefully replaced the cutting in the container and left the others alone.  I will give them another month or so, before checking again.  Hopefully at that time, they will be ready to transplant to individual pots and start life as little saplings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Velvet aroids

I have compiled a list of some of the velvetiest aroids there are.  Not velvet Evlises, velvet aroids.  When I speak of velvet aroids, the main criteria is the feel of the leaves.  Some people describe a wide range of textures as being "velvety," while others notice small differences in the textures that make them more "satiny" or more like velour.  The feel of the most velvety aroids is made possible due to tiny hairs which reside on the upper leaf surface.  Botanically speaking, this is referred to as velutinous (velvety) adaxial (upper) surfaces.

Most of my blog posts include pictures of my own plants, or at least pictures that I took while visiting some place with nice plants.  This post is an exception.  A majority of the pictures are being used, with permission, from various friends in the International Aroid Society.  Many of these are from Enid Offolter, of NSE Tropicals.  (By the way, Enid probably has the best selection of these plants available for sale.)  Since I don't own many of these plants, I have to rely on other people's pictures and descriptions for classifying them as velvety or something similar.  Which brings me to the secondary criteria for being on my velvet aroids list - which is appearance.  Most (but not all) of these plants have an iridescence when you look at the leaves, due to their velvetiness.  It is very prominent on some plants.  Sometimes this feature doesn't always show up well in photographs, but there are quite a few photographs where you can see this.

Anthurium noid3_myriad
Unknown velvet Anthurium at the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City

I decided that I would concentrate on two genera only for this post - Anthurium and Philodendron.  There are certainly other aroids with velvety textures, although I do believe the most velvety aroids are from these two genera.  I have mentioned others at the end, but I know that when I depart from these two genera, I have no chance of being comprehensive, especially with the gazillion cultivars of Colocasia and Caladium, which are somewhat velvety.

I should also mention that some of these plants change texture with maturity.  For instance, Philodendron hederaceum is quite velvety in juvenile form, but eventually becomes glossy.  Other species only attain the velvety texture when they reach maturity.  Many times it is difficult to tell the differences in these different species, hybrids and cultivars, especially when you are switching back and forth between different websites.  It is a little easier to compare them here, with them all pictured together.  That was part of my impetus for writing this post.  In some cases, seeing their pictures side by side makes you wonder how they are different species!  (see Anthurium crystallinum and Anthurium clarinervium)  But there are distinct differences as you train your eye and begin to look at other parts of the plant, beyond the shape and colors of the leaves.  Enid Offolter has some expertise and tells me that the cross section of the petioles (3, 4 or 5 sided) can tell you a lot about these two plants and the various hybrids.  There is a really good discussion (with photos) about identifying the differences between Anthurium angamarcanum and Anthurium marmoratum here.

And now, on to the list...

 Velvet Anthuriums


Anthurium angamarcanum

If you clicked on that link above, you have already seen some photos of individual leaves of Anthurium angamarcanum, but below you can see a mature plant in all its glory.  Beautiful.

Anthurium angamarcanum
Anthurium angamarcanum at the Atlanta Botanical Garden - photo courtesy Brian Williams

Anthurium besseae

I am not really familiar with this plant and haven't heard of anyone growing it in cultivation.  I only found a couple of websites with information on this plant.  Since one of them is Tropicos, I know that it is a valid species.

Anthurium besseae_croat
Anthurium besseae - photo courtesy Dr. Thomas Croat


Anthurium clarinervium

This species is very hard for me to separate from Anthurium crystallinum (lower down in the post).  So, how do I know which one is which?  Well, here's my method.  If the veins on the leaves are so vibrantly white/gold that they are burning your retinas...  that's clarinervium.  (Did you click that link?  I did warn you.)  If the veins are vibrant but your retinas aren't in pain, more likely crystallinum.

Anthurium clarinervium_enid

Anthurium clarinervium - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium UNKNOWN

This Anthurium has special leaves. They look like the skin of an elephant in their rough texture.  At the same time, they look soft.  See what I mean?  There is a plant in the Alocasia genus with similar looking leaves, but they are very stiff and not velvety.  That plant is Alocasia 'Maharani.'

Anthurium corrugatum_enid
Anthurium UNKNOWN- photo courtesy Enid Offolter


Anthurium corrugatum_tholzer
Anthurium UNKNOWN - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer


Anthurium corrugatum_tholzer3
Anthurium UNKNOWN (darker leaf) - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Anthurium crystallinum

This is one of the few velvet plants that I own.  I just bought it at the IAS show and sale in Miami last September.  It is still a small plant, but it will one day be a huge and beautiful specimen (if I can keep it alive and happy).  It definitely does not loose it's velvetiness with maturity.  In fact, this is probably one of those plants which becomes more velvety with age.

Anthurium crystallinum
My little Anthurium crystallinum


Anthurium crystallinum_enid
Anthurium crystallinum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Sometimes this plant produces leaves with a closed sinus.  The sinus is the upper opening on the heart-shape.  A picture of Anthurium crystallinum with a closed sinus is shown on the Exotic Rainforest website, here.

Anthurium crystallinum_crogers
Anthurium crystallinum - photo courtesy Christopher Rogers

Anthurium 'Mehani'

As far as I understand, this plant is a cultivar of the species Anthurium crystallinum.  That just means that there were some desirable traits of a certain plant and it was propagated (probably cloned via tissue culture) so that all of the offspring would have the same traits.  It is usually just labeled Anthurium 'Mehani', but should really be labeled Anthurium crystallinum 'Mehani.'

Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy mr_subjunctive
Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy mr_subjunctive


Anthurium mehani_enid
Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium forgetii

This plant is very uncommon in cultivation, but I did find a couple of nice photos.

Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy David Scherberich
Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy David Scherberich


Anthurium forgetii_enid
Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium hoffmannii

This is not a common plant in cultivation and it looks very similar to some of the other velvet Anthuriums.  I am told this one is more of a satiny texture.

Anthurium hoffmannii_russ
Anthurium hoffmannii - photo courtesy Russ Hammer

Anthurium leuconeurum

According to Deni Brown's book "Aroids: plants of the Arum family", this might not be a species, but a naturally occurring hybrid.  For the time being it is given species status.  Here are a couple of links with some information on this plant: World Field Guide, Araceum.

Anthurium leuconeurum_tholzer
Anthurium leuconeurum - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Anthurium magnificum

This is one of those plants that is a little more satiny than velvety, I am told.

Anthurium magnificum_enid
Anthurium magnificum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium marmoratum

This Anthurium has large leaves whose leaves are strongly iridescent.

Anthurium marmoratum-blade-tight
Anthurium marmoratum - photo courtesy Steve Lucas


Anthurium marmoratum_kaufmann
Anthurium marmoratum - photo courtesy Ron Kaufmann


Anthurium marmoratum_kaufmann3
Anthurium marmoratum with inflorescence - photo courtesy Ron Kaufmann

Anthurium pallidiflorum

This is a strap-leaf, pendent Anthurium, with satiny iridescent leaves.  I have a small seedling of this plant, but it's nothing to look at yet.  Here's an excellent picture, and another here.

Anthurium pallidiflorum_crogers
Anthurium pallidiflorum - photo courtesy Christopher Rogers

Anthurium papillilaminum

This plant blows me away.  Check out those dark leaves with such an interesting shape.  Very cool.

Anthurium papillilaminum_enid
Anthurium papillilaminum - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

Anthurium portilloi

This is one of those plants that might be better described as satiny, as opposed to velvety.  It certainly looks that way from the picture.

Anthurium portilloi
Anthurium portilloi - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

Anthurium regale

This is one of the more common velvet Anthuriums in cultivation (not that any of them are really common).  It looks very similar to A. crystallinum, A. clarinervium and A. magnificum.  The main difference in appearance, that I notice, is that the sinus of A. regale is considerably wider than any of the others.  One of Steve Lucas's photos has been immortalized on the latest International Aroid Society promotional brochures.

Anthurium regale_enid
Anthurium regale - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium vittariifolium

This is another of the strap-leaf, pendent Anthuriums.  It has satiny leaves of a silver-blue-green color.  There are also some really nice pictures of strap-leaved Anthuriums at the Palm Talk forum here.

Anthurium vittariifolium_enid
Anthurium vittariifolium - photo courtesy Enid Offolter


pendant Anthurium closeup
Anthurium vittariifolium at the Audubon House, Key West, Florida

Anthurium warocqueanum

This beautiful Anthurium is known for it's long and slender leaves with velvet texture.  It has been given the common name "Queen Anthurium", while Anthurium veitchii is known as the "King Anthurium."  While both of these plants have long, slender leaves, the King Anthurium has a slick, glossy texture to the dark leaves.

Anthurium warocqueanum_enid
The Queen Anthurium - Anthurium warocqueanum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter


Anthurium warocqueanum_wide_enid
Anthurium warocqueanum (wide leaf variety) - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium 'Ace of Spades'

This plant is presumed to be a hybrid, but the parentage is unknown.  The hybrid is believed to have originated in Hawaii and that's about all we know.  The most prominent characteristic is the bronze/red leaves, which you can see in each of the following images.

Anthurium ace_of_spades
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter


Anthurium ace_of_spades_lrule
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' - photo courtesy Leslie Rule


Anthurium ace_of_spades_tholzer
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' with inflorescence - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Anthurium 'Dark Mama' (Anth. warocqueanum x. Anth. papillilaminum)

This hybrid is the offspring of a set of velvety Anthuriums, resulting in a really unique leaf shape and great, dark color.  Look at the iridescence showing up on that lower right leaf.  Beautiful.

Anthurium warocqueanum_x_papillilaminum
Anthurium 'Dark Mama' (A. warocqueanum x. A. papillilaminum) - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

Anthurium 'Kybutzii'

This plant is of unknown origin.  It might be a species or it could be a naturally occurring hybrid.  It has large, satiny leaves and what appears to be raised primary veins on the adaxial (upper) leaf surface.

Anthurium kybutzii_miyano
Anthurium 'Kybutzii' - photo courtesy Leland Miyano

Anthurium 'Nikki'

This is another Anthurium hybrid of unknown parentage.  It came from a notable grower in India.

Anthurium nikki_enid
Anthurium 'Nikki' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter


Anthurium nikki_variegated_enid
Anthurium 'Nikki' variegated - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium hybrid (Anth. magnificum x. Anth. crystallinum)

Of all the pictures in this post, I think this one is the most striking.  This is quite a unique hybrid.  The most recent plant sold for $52.50 on eBay!

Anthurium magnificum_x_crystallinum
Anthurium hybrid (A. magnificum x. A. crystallinum) - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter


 Velvet Philodendrons


Philodendron andreanum

This species name is most likely a synonym for Philodendron melanochrysum, which is included farther down in this post.

Philodendron camposportoanum - lost with maturity

As a juvenile plant, this Philodendron looks much like the common Philodendron hederaceum, except that it is a bit lighter.  With a little maturity (and something to climb), the leaves start to change shape, from cordate (heart-shaped) to something much more interesting.  Soon the satiny sheen to the leaves will be gone.  Personally, I like the adolescent phase of these leaves, as pictured below.

Philodendron camposportoanum
Philodendron camposportoanum, climbing a natural structure in my greenhouse.

Philodendron gigas

As a young plant, it is hard to know the potential of this plant, since it looks nearly identical to Philodendron hederaceum 'Micans.'  However, this plant can get huge leaves, when given an opportunity to climb.

Philodendron gigas_juvenile_enid
Philodendron gigas juvenile plant - photo courtesy Enid Offolter


Philodendron gigas_mature_enid
Philodendron gigas mature plant - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Philodendron gloriosum

I purchased my Philodendron gloriosum at the IAS show this year, so I haven't had it long.  But I am told that it is one of the easiest houseplant Philodendrons, not needing much light and really liking it's feet wet.

Philodendron gloriosum and Encyclia plicata
My Philodendron gloriosum (center)


Philodendron gloriosum_tholzer
Philodendron gloriosum - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Caldwell Nursery has a really nice hybrid of Philodendron gloriosum x Philodendron ventricosum shown below.

Philodendron 'Ventricosum'
Philodendron gloriosum x ventricosum - photo courtesy Caldwell Nursery

Philodendron hederaceum

If given something to climb, this plant will begin to produce larger, more mature leaves.  These leaves lose their velvety texture and become slick surfaced.  There are several cultivars of this plant, including 'Micans' (pictured below) and 'Miduhoi.'  My 'Micans' is growing on my desk at work and is a beautiful, large plant, that keeps trying to climb the partition of my cubicle.

Philodendron hederaceum_micans
Philodendron hederaceum 'Micans'

Philodendron melanochrysum

Based on the pictures I have of this plant, I would guess that the extreme velvetiness of the juvenile plants fades a bit with maturity to more of a satin sheen on larger plants.  This is one of my favorites.  It is like a giant version of Philodendron hederaceum 'Micans'.

Philodendron melanochrysum crogers
Philodendron melanochrysum


Philodendron melanochrysum enid
Philodendron melanochrysum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Philodendron ornatum

Caldwell Nursery has this plant for sale and their picture makes the plant look like it has a very similar texture to Philodenron hederaceum, as a juvenile. There are pictures of a mature plant on the IAS website which shows this species loses of it's velvety texture and iridescence.

Philodendron ornatum_caldwell
Philodendron ornatum - photo courtesy Caldwell Nursery

Philodendron UNKNOWN

This plant is native to Ecuador.  The photos below are from a friend who lives there and has photographed it in nature.  This species looks very similar to Philodendron verrucosum to me.

Philodendron pastazense_beth1
Philodendron UNKNOWN - photo courtesy Elizabeth Campbell


Philodendron pastazense_beth2
Philodendron UNKNOWN - photo courtesy Elizabeth Campbell

Philodendron ventricosum

This species is endangered, due to the loss of habitat where it grows in Ecuador.  I guess this explains, at least partly, why I could only find one picture of this plant.  I did find some other pictures of hybrids where this plant is crossed with Philodendron gloriosum.

Philodendron 'Ventricosum'
Philodendron ventricosum - photo courtesy flickr member Nature's Assets


Philodendron verrucosum

This one is especially unique because of the petioles (leaf stems) which are very hairy.  The only other Philodendron I know with such conspicuously furry petioles would be Philodendron squamiferum.  But this one has the added bonus of red and green velvet leaves.  How can you not love this plant?  Sometimes it is crossed with Philodendron melanochrysum to form another neat velvety Philodendron.

Philodendron verrucosum_enid
Philodendron verrucosum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter


Philodendron verrucosum_back_steve
Philodendron verrucosum petioles and abaxial (underside) leaf surface - photo courtesy Steve Lucas


Philodendron verrucosum tholzer2
Philodendron verrucosum - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer


Other velvet aroids


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I will not try to list all aroids with velutinous leaves.  I have confined my challenge to Anthuriums and Philodendrons.  But I will include a couple of pictures I have taken over the years of velvety aroids outside of those two genera.

Alocasia 'Frydek' (also know as Alocasia 'Green Velvet')

The plant pictured below is growing in great number at the newly-renovated Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City.  It is a very striking plant, with it's very dark leaves offset by the pure white veins.

Anthurium frydek_myriad
Alocasia 'Frydek' (center) at the Myriad Gardens

Scindapsus pictus

This beautiful little creeper/climber is becoming increasingly popular as a house plant, thanks to Angel Brand plants, which stocks Wal-Mart and Lowe's buildings all over the country.  The foliage of this plant is satiny and has really neat silver patches.  And as a bonus, they grow pretty well in dark areas of the house.  Usually they are grown in hanging baskets or in a simple pot, allowing the plant to drape over the edge.  I had the rare opportunity to see one of these plants growing in a more natural setting, shingling up a rock wall in the tropical conservatory at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.  It even had an inflorescence!  I have a couple of these plants myself and might try to get one to shingle for me in my greenhouse.

Scindapsus pictus inflorescence
Scindapsus pictus shingling and with an inflorescence


Scindapsus pictus
Scindapsus pictus growing in a relatively dark area of our house

Syngonium wendlandii

This is a neat plant that I had for a while.  If kept trimmed, it will stay in a nice little clump in a pot.  But it really prefers to climb, as you can see in the photos.

Syngonium wendlandii
Syngonium wendlandii

Rhaphidophora tenuis

There are many shingling Monstera and Rhaphidophora which have satiny - or sometimes velvety - leaves in their juvenile forms.  As they climb higher into the trees, the plant changes considerably and they lose their dainty juvenile leaves, in favor of larger split leaves.  I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Peter Boyce and hear him speak at the IAS banquet this year.  He is the primary taxonomist working in the field in southeast Asia, identifying new species of aroids.

Rhaphidophora tenuis boyce1
shingling Rhaphidophora tenuis - photo courtesy Peter Boyce


Rhaphidophora tenuis boyce2
mature Rhaphidophora tenuis - photo courtesy Peter Boyce

For those of you interested in growing velvety Anthuriums and Philodendrons, here is a list of sellers which carry some: Equatorial Exotics (in Australia), Eldon Tropicals, NSE Tropicals (Enid Offolter), Brian's Botanicals (Brian Williams), and Ecuagenera.  Enid and Brian are members of the International Aroid Society and sell their plants through eBay.