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P. tortum a.k.a. 'spider Philo., etc.

  • Subject: P. tortum a.k.a. 'spider Philo., etc.
  • From: "Julius Boos" <ju-bo@email.msn.com>
  • Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 09:03:02 -0600 (CST)

Dear Friends,

Just a note towards attempting to straighten out the true I.D. of a
Philodendron sp. that has been around for some time under quite a few
incorrect names.   Photos of a plant in bloom submitted by Jim ('Hammer')
Langhammer have recently
been posted on the aroid-l site of Les Kallus under the 'already identified
species' section with the correct identification of the plant as
Philodendron tortum Mayo and Soares (in press).   I am told that it occurs
naturally in E. Brazil (Eduardo, please confirm?).  A single leaf of this
species is illustrated in 'The Genera of Araceae' on pg. 171,
'D' ,  and incorrectly I.D.`d as P. angustisectum.    Two different vars. or
collections of this
same plant, one with thinner, more delicate leaf divisions than the other
but both the same species have for years been sold by Albert & Merkle Bros.
Inc. here in Florida as P. 'pinnatifidium' and P. 'distantilobum', both
incorrect names for this distinctive plant.   Mr. Merkle, who is an amazing
90 years old and still very active and works at his nursery every day, told
me that he no longer recalls the source of his two parent plants, but that
he used to travel to collect plants in various countries in S. America
including Brazil back in the 'old days'.   You may recall Mr. Merkle`s table
at several of the last IAS shows in Miami where I saw several small pots of
these plants for sale in mis-labeled 4" pots for around $5.00 each.
I believe that Denis at Silver Chrome produced a number of these plants
from tissue culture several years ago and it was marketed to bulk outlets
such as 'Frank`s Nursery' chain up North chain as  and perhaps others
USA-wide as 'Spider Philodendron'.  (any info on the source of your original
plant, Denis?).
SO---anyone who has a slow-growing, compact spider-leaf Philo. sp. that has
following features can now place an ID tag on it with confidence!   You
plant should be fairly compact-growing, and as an adult plant demonstrate a
short, very thick, curved and claw-like structure at the base of the leaves.
The specific name 'tortum' is reference to this distinctive and obvious
feature on this species.
I have recently seen another Philodendron species in a friend`s g/house that
also has finely-divided leaves, but this species 'vines' everywhere and the
internodes are thinner than a pencil and LONG between leaves, perhaps
10-12", while the internodes of true P. tortum are around 4" long and with
as thick as a finger or thumb, creating a much more 'compact' plant.
My hope is that this posting may clear up SOME of the confusion surrounding
this wonderful aroid.   Thanks to Jim Langhammer and many others who
provided information and showed me specimens.
Good growing,

Julius Boos

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