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 my information.
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
plants and there are many more in cultivation than in the
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.
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 love."
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 like hybrids."
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
a spell until they get their mature form which look like the figures 154-155
of Aroidiana (vol.
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 have
yellowish midribs and
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!