While attempting to research this plant, I have got myself thoroughly
confused. I'm sure Tom - if he's not off doing field work somewhere - can
resolve parts of the confusion, but I also have some cultural questions,
so I thought I'd post this to the whole list.
In August 1994, according to my records, Tom and Petra gave me two
cuttings of what was labeled as Philodendron squamiferum. It's a very
pretty plant, with shiny green leaves of a shape hard to describe but very
attractive, the "hairy" petioles which are darkish at the leaf end and
light at the stem end, and it is either much smaller than a lot of the
things Tom collects or doesn't mind being kept small. Both cuttings rooted
easily and have been crawling around one end of my small greenhouse ever
since, leaves turning up in odd places from time to time.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed something different about one plant and
realized that it was about to flower. A few days ago, though, the stem of
the inflorescence began to yellow, and sure enough it aborted without
opening. Dissection showed it was indeed an inflorescence.
My first question, directed to all growers of this or similar species, is:
is this a common thing or related to my culture, which is very casual? I
don't recall it happening with aroids before - usually when they decide to
flower, they do so. In either case, suggestions are welcome.
As I often do, I went searching on the Internet for information about P.
squamiferum. I'm used to getting no results on an initial high-level
search and quickly moved on to the Tropicos database at MoBot and the Gray
Index at Harvard.
I expected a quick resolution at MoBot, given that Tom's collection was my
source, but found nothing on P. squamiferum. A search on "Philodendron
squam" returned only P. squamicaule. I scanned the list of collections for
that species but didn't match Tom's collection number for my plant
(71914). A look at Harvard turned up P. squamicaule, P. squamiferum, and
P. squamipetiolatum, with an entry under P. squamiferum for variety
aceriferum. Back to Tropicos at MoBot, where a search for "Philodendron
acer" did indeed show P. squamiferum v. aceriferum, but no collections
The second question, of course, is what is the currently favored name for
the plant I have?
Incidentally, if the answer is that I have P. aceriferum or P. squamiferum
v. aceriferum, both names attributed to Schott, I must beg to differ if he
meant the acer in the name to refer to the shape of the leaf. To me, those
leaves resemble maple leaves only in the same way that topologists think a
donut and a coffee cup are the same.
-- Steve Marak
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