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.


  1. A wonderful collection of love love the huge leaves! :)

  2. Wow Zach, this is quite an impressive post. I can tell you put a lot of work into it. Its very informative as well. Great work!

  3. D. Christopher RogersNovember 7, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    Looks great, Zach!!!

  4. Claire Maryse MontalvoMay 13, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    The best informative work
    Where to find them,,??

  5. Great one Zac
    I am looking forward to seeing many of these when I visit MOBOT and Florida in May.