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Re: Aroid-L XANADU

Hi Hermine.  This is really Julius' territory but since he is under the weather right now I'll take a stab at it.

As far as I can learn, and Julius and I have talked about this a great deal, the species was described from tissue cultured specimens.  That is unusual in botany but there was a great deal of info that lead Julius with Tom and Simon Mayo's help to believe the plant was unique.  You can read about that in two different articles by Julius found in Aroideana.

I believe the variations you appear to be describing are primarily a result of tissue culture.  The plant was licensed to a variety of labs to be TC'd and what comes out of the lab depends largely on what goes into the test tube!  Too much of a chemical and the plants will vary.  This one has been very strange at producing a lot of plants with double spathes and/or deformed spathes.  I've seen several and there have been members of Aroid l post photos from Disney in Orlando with crazy spathes.  I've been unable to learn if anyone has been successful at growing any of these plants form seed but if so they should stabilize to some degree.

The other problem is simply the natural variation in any aroid.  It took me a long time to begin to get a handle on it but there is a wild amount of variation in Philodendron and Anthurium species.  I consulted with Julius, Leland and Tom for weeks and read a ton of published material before trying to write an article explaining how variation and morphogenesis work.  You can find that on my site since it is listed right on the home page near the bottom right. 

I have one of Julius' original specimens that he used during the period when he was working on the description and mine is old enough to produce inflorescences.  However, I'm not talented enough to make it pollinate so I don't know if I'll ever see berries and seed.  Mine produces good inflorescences so someday I hope to give it a try.

One note.  Leland Miyano believes, and I think he has actually seen a plant in Brazil that is very much like P. xanadu but is larger.  I also have a friend that lives near Mexico City that brought back seeds from Brazil some 20 years ago (well before tissue culture was popular) and his plants are identical to those we see in tissue culture but stay perpetually smaller than the ones Leland describes.    He tells me he got the seeds from a friend that grew a lot of aroids in his yard in Brazil and the plant was quite common.  As I recall, that friend lived near Sao Paulo.   As a result I have no doubt this plant is a species but there is still a great deal to be learned.  But to be fair, I know for certain there are people that read all the mail on this forum that don't believe it is anything but a hybrid.

I'm sure you know that a great deal of the forest in Brazil has been devastated so many species will likely never be found in the wild.  You can log on to Google Earth and see huge areas of clear cut forest!  Plants used to live there that only collectors likely grow and few of us have any collection data.  I've been fortunate enough to receive four plants from the collection of Roberto Burle-Marx that were apparently wild collected but there is zero collection data.  MOBOT sold some of their Burle-Marx cuttings a few months ago and I managed to get one of those that is now quite large.  If we can get Leland to chime in I believe he can tell you about the plants he has seen including the one that may well be the original parent of P. xanadu!

As the story goes the original plants grown in Australia came from seeds supposedly of Philodendron bipinnatifidum that were imported into Australia.  I've been told that one of those seeds looked "different" and was the first P. xanada grown down under. 
>From there the story took some strange turns including Xanadu was "found" in an Australian rain forest.  That story actually ran in a Lost Angeles news paper and until a few months could still be found on the internet.  I haven't checked lately but you might find it now.  Of course, any botanist will tell you that Philodendron don't grow naturally anywhere but Central and South America with some in the Caribbean.

There is still a great deal to learn and I'm hopeful that Julius will feel well enough shortly to fill in all the enormous gaps I left blank.  In the meantime there is an article on my site that Julius provided a lot of the info that might tell you more.

Steve Lucas

hermine wrote:

what is this thing with Philodendron  'Xanadu' being so variable? some look like epiphytic ferns, others have huge fat petioles, some are blue, others almost orange.

discuss and explain how this happened. I thought a named cultivar was supposed to be UNIFORM.


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