Carol, the plant you are seeking is one of the most variable of
all Philodendron species. Dr. Croat once told me if you were
to travel though out its vast range you may well find close to 1000
forms of the plant due to the natural variation of the species and they
all don't look alike.
The correct name is Philodendron hederaceum but it is known to
collectors by many names including Philodendron acrocardium,
Philodendron cuspidatum, Philodendron hoffmannii, Philodendron
microphyllum, Philodendron pittier,
Philodendron micans, Philodendron oxycardium, Philodendron scandens
and others. Just because they all don't look alike or have the
velutinous (velvety) upper blade surface or the reddish/purple lower
blade surface does not mean the plant is a different species.
Variations such as these have caused this plant to have far too many
scientific names but the first name published to science correct to
genus was P. hederaceum so it wins the prize. P.
hederaceum is likely the most often misunderstood and misnamed Philodendron
species in the rain forest. Before that it was known as an Arum
species. Most collectors consider a few of those names such as Philodendron
micans or Philodendron scandens to be the ideal "house
plant". They also consider them all to be totally different species.
But to a botanist they are one and the same plant and if you grow them
long enough the velvet appearance often vanishes and the purple/red
turns to green. I've seen it happen in my own atrium and my plants are
only 9 feet tall so far. I've also found the more light you give it
the faster it grows and the the larger the leaf blades become. The
range is enormous and so are the variations to the to the species.
Philodendron hederaceum is widespread in the Caribbean as well
as Mexico, all of Central and most of South America. In the Caribbean
it occurs on the islands of Martinique south to Trinidad. The species
can be observed at sea level to 1200 meters but possibly as high as
1500 meters (3,900 to 4,900 feet) in elevation. In South America it
extends from as far south Peru, and Bolivia, near Los Ríos province
near the coast of Ecuador up through Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas,
Although virtually all private collectors consider the species to only
be small as well as suitable for growing in the kitchen or bath it can
grow much larger than most ever expect. The adult leaves can range in
size to approximately 50cm (19 inches) in length! Few "house plant"
growers will ever see a leaf of Philodendron hederaceum with
blades that size unless you venture into the rain forests of Central
and South America. In the forest the blades often measure 11 to 40cm
but possibly up to 50 centimeters (4 to 19.5 inches) long and 8 to 34
centimeters (3.25 to 13.33 inches) wide. Fewer still will ever see it
produce an inflorescence since it needs to hit about 20 meters (60
feet) up into a host tree and hang down pendently from the tree
branches to produce an inflorescence.
I have a page on my website that is badly in need of updating but you
can read what I've written here:
Just tonight I found a bunch of errors and typos in the piece so I'll
work on that tomorrow.
By the way, I have four variations and will gladly give you cuttings. I
sent you a private note so just give me an address. I'd love to say I'd
do that for everyone but I just can't supply them to all right now.
But do feel free to ask later!
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