I had hoped the situation would get clearer regarding plants
being called 'Santa Leopoldina'. Perhaps it has cleared just a bit, but it
also has gotten murkier! Today I increased the number of plants from 5 to
11 bearing this name! Brian Williams furnished some good comments along
with photos which I have included on the blind web page.
Very important, as far as I am concerned, are some new
comments from grower Leland Miyano in Hawaii. For
those of you who don't know Leland, you should! Leland has an incredible
collection of very rare philodendron species on the island of Oahu in
Hawaii. Leland was a personal friend of Roberto Burle Marx and worked
closely with the master artist and plant collector. Leland knows Roberto's
property and plants very well. He also knows philodendrons very
well! I have a copy of a personal reference from Roberto given to Leland
which any plant collector would cherish were it written for and to
Here are some of Leland's comments today sent in personal
emails. I have marked what I consider very important comments and
information in red. Especially his comment which I have increased in size
and made bold:
Aloha. Thank you for
referring me to your aroid-l discussion...I am not subscribing, but you can use
First of all, Philodendron'Santa Leopoldina' should be
dropped from common usage. It is of no help and other scientific names
should be used for the sundry imposters.
Secondly, I have seen two types of Philodendron spiritus-sancti and the only
difference is the color
of the underside of the blades. One is deeply
burgundy and the other is tinged. I have seen many of
these plants and
there are many more in cultivation than in the wild.
The number 4
and 6 in your photos may be the same plant which I was calling Philodendron
billietiae. #4 is a younger plant and as it ages the color fades from the
back and the blades get wider and shorter in proportions. If any Philodendron sold as P. spiritus-sancti has long internodes
or grows fast, it is an imposter. Even very small plants of
Philodendron spiritus-sancti have the short internodes. Philodendron
billietiae as a youngster is the easiest to pass as spiritus-sancti.
Growth in Philodendron spiritus-sancti is very slow...I have seen plants sit
there for years without gaining much length in the stem.
I also think that someone or the aroid society
should donate plants of Philodendron spiritus-sancti to Fairchild and
Missouri ( or any well-funded and commited public garden) before the tissue
cultured plants are released. That will be a good conservation move.
These need to be in a public accessioned and well curated collection. The
other danger is hybridizing very closely related types...those of us who prefer
pure species will not be able to tell them apart. It may already be
happening due to the lack of specimens and or clones. This same problem
has happened with cycads and now the hybrid swarms are confusing
everything...even before the species are adequately studied. If the
habitat disappears, then we will never know all the details we
In a later email Leland made this comment about
some of the photos you will see on the blind link today:
"I took another look at the blind
link and the newly posted photos of some of Brian William's plants look
And in a third email
Leland made these comments, " This aroid-l has opened a can of worms for me
again. I am
looking at your photos and plants in my yard. #4 and 6 are the same plant
in my opinion.
Young plants are like #4 in that they are bluish above and
burgundy on the underside. They get longer and
greener for a spell
until they get their mature form which look like the figures 154-155 of
9(1-4))...Philodendron atabapoense. I forget how I got
the id of Philodendron billietae, but that is the
name I have used....maybe
Dr. Croat can comment. At anyrate, my plants vary and the mature leaves
yellowish midribs and petioles."
have also received few email comments from others with similar opinions.
As yet, I have not seen any comments from the PhD's and I am most anxious for
their comments to be heard. I know that several who read the comments here
are anxious to get to the bottom of this entire situation. Here is the
link to the updated blind link:
I hope those of you who are familiar with any of these
"unknown" species and/or hybrids will make your voices heard!