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Rhaphidophora sp. at Fairchild Tropical Garden

  • To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
  • Subject: Rhaphidophora sp. at Fairchild Tropical Garden
  • From: "FTG Conservatory, Craig Allen" <conserv@netrox.net>
  • Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 19:51:23 -0500 (CDT)

I haven't had time to write until now...

The plant in discussion at FTG is
Rhaphidophora sp.                FG74407       S. E. Asia
COMMON NAME: Shingle plant
SOURCE: Botanic Garden, Lae, New Guinea
DESCRIPTION:  beautiful 2-4" round, silver-veined flat dark green leaves,
clasping wall. This plant has small 2" spadix barely emerging from between
the clasped leaves.

At Fairchild Tropical Garden this plant is now growing in the epiphyte room
of the Conservatory. It has attached itself to the concrete walls behind the
bromeliad tree. I also have Monstera dubia growing in a nearby area of the
Conservatory. The Monstera closely resembles in its juvenile state. They are
very different in their leaf texture. The monstera is fairly hard in
texture, the vine itself very fibrous and tough. The Raph. is very fragile
and crisp in texture, being damaged very easily. The Raph has a vein pattern
on a very dark green background but none of the silver suffused over the
young M. dubia. M. dubia has larger juvenile foliage with a much lighter
green background color. The leaves of the Raph are thinner and clasp much
tighter to their host. Many visitors have commented that the leaves look
painted on to the wall.

I had once told Jonathan Ertelt that it bloomed behind the clasped leaf, and
at one time it did. For the last year the inflorescence has begun to emerge
from between the tightly clasped leaves on a very short side shoot that
usually emerges about half way up the vine. It has two half hidden
abbreviated bract like leaves, then the 2" inflorescence. The white spathe
is cupped around a short spadix. After a week or two the inflorescence
fades, the bract like leaves yellow and the side shoot dies entirely. So far
it has never bloomed at the growing tip of the climbing vine.

Who knows what it might someday grow into. For many years I grew this tiny
little aroid, Pothodianum. The slender thread like vine and narrow 3/4" leaf
were so fragile. I put a propagation at the base of a tree in the
Conservatory. With in one month I was having to trim masses of the 12"
leaves and rope like vine off the orchids that it had covered.

I had intended to take a herbarium specimen of the Rhaphidophora when it
bloomed last year, but that never happened. Maybe then the identity might be

Craig Allen
Conservatory Manager
Fairchild Tropical Garden

>Dear Friends,
>I was most interested to read the below, I did not know that some of these
>shingle plants would and in fact did bloom at this stage, so look forward
>Pete`s opinion as to the 'why' of this to-me unusual occurence!
>At 12:18 PM -0500 6/10/00, Julius Boos wrote:
>>Dear Jack,
>>Many 'vining' Aroids do this, Philodendron, Monstera and Raphidophora come
>>to mind, it is a response to the growing conditions, and is a 'juvinile'
>>form of the plant which does and will change to one with 'normal' leaves
>>once it encounters different/'better' conditions higher up the tree, rock
>>face, or in the case of Fairchild Gardens, the wall!
>>Good luck in your quest!
>>>Julius, Jack, et al.,
>This is a most interesting plant growing at Fairchild.  The difficulty
>regarding the 'juvinile' vs. 'normal' leaf type for this species is what
>can one mean by juvinile?  The reason I ask this is that this plant blooms
>underneath those shield-like leaves, and has been doing so for years.
>Craig Allen was generous enough to let me have a piece when I was at UNC
>Charlotte, to grow there, and pointed out this phenomenon.  He said, if I
>remember correctly, that it was labeled Raphidophora because they didn't
>know what else to label it.  However, the inflorescences are small, not
>protruding from underneath the appressed shingle leaves - you don't know
>it's blooming unless you a.) prune it back, or b.) grow it on glass and
>look at it from the back side!  It does certainly look like the
>silver-white veined plant that Geoffrey Kibby put on his website (Hello
>Geoffrey!)  I am by no means an expert on Araceae - however, I would
>venture to say that the shingles leaves here are the mature leaves, and
>that this does not fit into any standard understanding of any of the genera
>in the tribe Monstereae.  Regarding the idea of mature leaves, a healthy
>plant in good light will have leaves slightly overlapping - same plant goes
>to low light or falls from support, internodal growth stretches out and
>leaves can be greatly reduced.  Improve conditions, leaves will go to
>previous description - i.e. always shingle type leaves, including after
>blooming has commenced, as stated above.  Regarding not in any genera in
>Monstereae, this is simply based on a quick glance through of illustrations
>in _The Genera of Araceae, and a scanning of descriptions.
>Would be most interested in hearing opinions advanced.  Good Growing.
>Jonathan Ertelt
>Greenhouse Manager
>Vanderbilt University Biology Department
>Box 1812, Sta. B
>Nashville, TN  37235
>(615) 322-4054<<<

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