Within our collection we have many species of Philodendron. If you are seeking other photos, click this link:
None of the plants on this page are correctly Philodendron cordatum which is a totally different species.
The common name "Philodendron cordatum Hort." is not the same plant as the species known to science as
Philodendron cordatum Kunth. "Hort." indicates the name is horticultural and not scientific and as a result
"Philodendron cordatum Hort." is only a common name and is not scientific.
You can see the true Philodendron cordatum Kunth by clicking this link.
Philodendron hederaceum (Jacq.) Schott (1829)
Known as Philodendron scandens (1853), Philodendron micans (1854), Philodendron oxycardium (1856), and other names.
Philodendron hederaceum (Jacq.) Schott (1829)
Arum hederaceum (1760), Philodendron scandens (1853), Philodendron prieurianum (1853)
Philodendron micans (1854), Philodendron cuspidatum, (1854), Philodendron microphyllum (1854),
Philodendron oxycardium (1856), Philodendron oxyprorum (1856), Philodendron hoffmannii (1858),
Philodendron acrocardium (1858), Philodendron pittieri (1899), Philodendron harlowii (1949), Philodendron miduhoi (1950),
Heart Leaf Philodendron, Velvet Philodendron, Velvet Leaf Philodendron, Heart Philodendron, Sweetheart Plant, Philodendron Brazil, Philodendron Brasil, Velour Philodendron, and apparently the "Blushing Philodendron".
In most papers the "Blushing Philodendron" refers to Philodendron erubescens.
Philodendron Brasil is only a natural cultivar of Philodendron hederaceum
"Philodendron cordatum Hort." is only a common name and is not a scientific name for this species.
A 180 year old discussion that is still argued by plant collectors.
What is the true name of this plant?
Philodendron hederaceum (hay-day-RA-see-oom) is widespread in parts of Mexico, all of Central and most of South America and parts of the Caribbean. In the Caribbean Philodendron hederaceum occurs in the southeastern islands of Martinique south to Trinidad. In South America it extends from as far south as Bolivia and Peru to the west along the Los Ríos province near the coast of Ecuador and up through Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, and Brazil. 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.
The discussion you are about to read regarding P. hederaceum along with its variability and its numerous synonym scientific names has been going on for almost 180 years. Despite the claim by some that botanists keep changing the name of this species, the name Philodendron hederaceum was established as the correct name many years ago. Philodendron hederaceum takes on different "faces" depending on where it grows in the rain forest in the same way people often have distinctive facial features throughout the world.
Although originally published as Arum hederaceum in 1760 that name does not correctly place the species in the proper genus which is Philodendron. The correct placement came in 1829 when the plant was properly name Philodendron hederaceum. Collectors consider a few of the
synonym names such as Philodendron micans , Philodendron oxycardium or Philodendron scandens to be accurate names as well as the ideal "house plant" but they also consider them all to be totally different species.
To a botanist they are one and the same plant since color variations along with natural changes to the leaf are not scientific indicators of a new species. As can easily be seen in the list of synonyms at the top of this page every name that is in common usage was published after the accepted name of Philodendron hederaceum. In botany, the first name published that is correct to genus is the accepted species' name. Although those names are commonly used by plant collectors they are no longer accepted as a primary pr correct name in botanical science. A synonym is any name scientifically granted to a plant which was published after the original species' name and has since proven to be the same species as described in the first publication. The first published name wins the prize and synonyms are always published after the original accepted name.
It is at least possible the reason collectors see so many different names available for sale by commercial growers is a matter of commerce. If a seller has five or six different plants available they make more sales. It is likely some sellers prefer to sell all the natural variations of Philodendron hederaceum using different names in order to bring in additional income.
An aroid, the species Philodendron hederaceum was described to science in 1829. Within aroid species there is change and part is during the life of a single plant and is known as ontogeny or the changes observed as the plant grows from juvenile to adult. We often call those changes morphogenesis. The other change commonly observed in aroids is known as variation within a species. Morphogenesis is sometimes not observed until a plant is allowed to climb and change into its adult shape. Despite what many home growers believe, Philodendron hederaceum is a climber and will not fully display it's full natural form unless it is allowed to climb.
Natural variation is different than morphogenesis and happens over many years. Variation far from sudden and occurs over a very long term which can easily be eons. That long term variation within the species P. hederaceum has created a great deal of controversy and confusion among collectors. For more information on natural variation please refer to this link: Natural variation
P. hederaceum is frequently collected by plant growers but is often poorly understood as a species. The plant has obviously been misnamed (renamed) in the past by botanists and the species was at one time the most confusing Philodendron in the rain forest having been granted new names on a very regular basis during the mid 1800's. Although virtually all private collectors consider the species to be only a small plant suitable for growing in the kitchen or bath it can grow much larger than most expect.
Although many juvenile specimens have a burgundy coloration on the underside of the leaf other specimens of the same species are only green. These variations can often be observed on a single specimen with leaves that have reddish undersides while others have only green. We have observed plants with leaves that appear velvety while others are almost matte in color with no texture at all.
Within a few seasons of growth you can easily watch the plant change shape and color especially if it is allowed to climb. It is not uncommon for a specimen to loose the reddish underside of the leaves and have the blade change color, texture and shape.
Philodendron hederaceum will eventually completely loose the velutinous (velvet) texture and can totally change its appearance to the point it is not recognizable by any collector that has not seen it in the rain forest. Dr. Croat explained to a meeting of aroid enthusiasts at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City the velvet blade is found only on juvenile specimens and once the blade begins to reach adulthood the characteristic is lost.
This is natural variation and variation is common in all aroid species. 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 (4 to 16 inches) but possibly up to 50 centimeters (4 to 19.5 inches) long and 8 to 49 centimeters (3.25 to 13.33 inches) wide. Once fully grown the species look nothing like the small plant grown as a house plant. You can see other fully grown specimen here: http://www.tropicos.org/name/2103234
Philodendron species are members of the larger plant family Araceae (uh-RAY-see ee) commonly known as aroids. An aroid is characterized by the growth of an inflorescence which is the sexual reproductive organ of the plant. The major parts of an inflorescence are known as a spathe and spadix. If you've ever seen a "Peace lily" you've seen an inflorescence. That species, which is correctly a member of the aroid genus Spathiphyllum, produces inflorescences on a regular basis but despite everyone calling the spathes "flowers" they aren't flowers at all. Instead, a spathe is more like a "flower holder".
When an aroid is referred to as "flowering" the reference is truly to the very small flowers which are produced along the spadix and has nothing to do with the spathe itself. The only connection between the two is both the flowers on the spadix and the spathe are produced when the plant is sexually active.
The spathe is simply a modified leaf which appears in the shape of a hood. The spadix is located at the center of the spathe and is a spike on a thickened fleshy axis. Despite the spathe being called a "flower" on many websites it is not a flower. Flowers contain near microscopic sexual parts including anthers, stamens, and stigmas during the reproductive process and a spathe contains none of these sexual characteristics. The inflorescence contains the tiny reproductive organs of the plant and once the inflorescence enters sexual anthesis the spadix produces tiny flowers which can be observed with a good magnifying glass.
On Philodendron hederaceum an inflorescence is rarely if ever seen outside the rain forest. To produce an inflorescence the plant must first climb high into the rain forest and then hang pendently from a tree branch before an inflorescence is ever produced. Once produced that inflorescence may either stand erect or hang pendently and there is only one inflorescence per axil. The inflorescence is supported by a peduncle which is short. The peduncle is a stalk-like support that grows from the plant's central axis known as the stem. The stem is completely different from the support for any leaf which is correctly known as a petiole. The spathe can be dark green, yellowish green or other color combinations and is sometimes tinged purple with the interior sometimes becoming reddish. The spathe typically measures 9 to 24cm (3.5 up to 9.4 inches) long and can be 1 to 3.3 times longer than peduncle, Please note the inflorescence in the center of Barry Hammel's photo (left) as well as the group of inflorescences in Dr. Tom Croat's photo below (right).
The true flowers including male, sterile male and female grow upon the spadix and if pollinated by an appropriate insect the female flowers will produce berries which contain seeds. If the plant is pollinated the berries are greenish white and will develop along the spadix. If a bird or other animal eats the berry and drops a seed in its droppings a new plant may form. Those seeds often end up on the branch of a tree and as a result, Philodendron hederaceum is known to science as a hemiepiphytic vine. Hemiepiphytes are species that are capable of beginning life on a tree branch or they may begin as a seed dropped on the ground which proceeds to climb. P. hederaceum does not necessarily need soil to survive although as collectors we always grow them in soil.
For information on the pollination and reproduction of aroids click this link Natural and artificial pollination in aroids
In the case of Philodendron hederaceum (a/k/a P. scandens, P. oxycardium, P. micans, Philodendron Brasil, or Philodendron Brazil) the vines often grow very high in the trees and trail pendently towards the jungle floor as a hanging vine. Scientifically the species is known as a scandent climbing vine which indicates the plant is one that grows with the stem and frequently the blades held close to the host tree.
Philodendron hederaceum is a member of Philodendron section Philodendron subsection Solenosterigma. It is always distinguished by its scandent (close growing) habit, long internodes, deciduous cataphylls which fall from the plant and solitary inflorescence with green spathes that are reddish to purplish on the inside. The cataphylls are bract-like modified leaves that surround a newly emerging leaf and whose purpose is to protect the new leaf as they develop. A bract is a portion of the plant from where flowers eventually grow so the cataphyll isn't a bract but only appears similar.
The support for the leaves of an aroid are known as the petioles. Despite the fact many growers call the petiole a "stem" a petiole is not a stem. The petiole is the shoot-like stalk that connects the lamina of the leaf at the petiole's top to the specimen's stem which is at its bottom. The petioles emerge from a bud on the stem at the base of the plant and their purpose is to support the leaf as well as transfer water along with nutrients through the petiole's cellular structure (xylem) to the leaf blades using a specialized form of hydraulic pressure. The unique upwards pull on the water is actually caused by the evaporation of water through the leaves. This link explains the difference in the stem and the petiole: What is a stem?
The term "stem" is one of the most
frequently misused terms in the world of plant collecting since
collectors almost always incorrectly refer to the stalk that supports
any individual leaf as a "stem". The stem is the support for the entire
plant and is the plant's base, In terrestrial species the stem is
found growing over the ground as a rhizome while in epiphytic and
hemiepiphitic species such as Philodendron hederaceum the stem
climbs the host tree to which it is often tightly pressed (appressed).
Although roots normally anchor a plant to the soil the stem of an
epiphyte is also held to the tree by the same roots which grow from the
nodes found at intervals along its own length. Those nodes are separated
by stem segments which are called internodes. The nodes also produce
buds which in turn produce the petioles which support the leaves.
In Philodendron Brasil the undersides have no distinctive color other than that similar to the top of the leaf blade. Although many collects believe Philodendron Brasil is a unique species it is not and as the plant ages all the color other than green will eventually vanish. If you look at the second photo of the plant (right) you can easily see as the plant emerges from the juvenile form the multicolored leaves as well as the yellow-green leaves are lost and begin to turn dark green as a part of natural plant variation and the morphogenesis into their adult form. Keep in mind Philodendron Brasil is nothing more than a natural variation of Philodendron hederaceum and not a unique scientific species.
The leaves of Philodendron hederaceum may be broadly ovate (heart shaped) as well as subcoriaceous to coriaceous. A coriaceous leaf is one that is leathery to the touch which would leave a subcoriaceous blade to be less than leathery when felt. Especially in juvenile leaves the blade is quite thin. Unless you have a plant with very large leaves you are almost certainly growing a juvenile plant!
As you can quickly see in the photographs on this page, this species does not always appear the same so how is that possible? Within aroids variation is common, Consider it to be somewhat like human faces. You know many people but those people don't all look alike, they all have different body sizes, different shoe sizes, different hair color, different tones of skin, and often very distinctive facial features which we accept as human or racial differences. That is the same as variation in the world of plants!
Dr. Croat once explained that if you were to make collections of this species throughout its large natural range you would find countless slight variations. But all those hundreds, possibly thousands of variations have never been granted their own exclusive name. As Dr. Croat explained, "It is simply the nature of evolution." Only a select few which to a botanist at some point in our history somehow appeared distinctive were granted a name but only one name is the accepted species' name. All others are simply synonyms. Just as in the human species there is only a single species of human being known as Homo sapiens with many faces and body shapes.
Within the world of P. hederaceum there are many "faces" and shapes but only one species. The differences are only variation and/or morphogenesis. It was perhaps only the botanists of previous eras who often granted different scientific names to a large number of plants that did not "appear" alike. Upon careful examination of each one of those "species" they all have the same scientific features, especially the sexual features found within the spathe and spadix and that forces a well studied botanist such as Dr. Croat to disregard all the newer names and revert to the accepted name which is Philodendron hederaceum. That was the first valid name correct to genus granted to this species in 1829.
A settled argument
The discussion among botanical scientists about the natural variation of Philodendron hederaceum goes back close to 180 years and is now a closed issue.
Since the mid 1800's botanist once argued about the synonyms of Philodendron hederaceum. Botanist Heinrich Wilhelm Schott (1794 to 1865) transferred Arum hederaceum to the genus Philodendron in1829 when he realized it was not an Arum. In 1856 he also transferred Philodendron scandens, Philodendron oxycardium, Philodendron micans and others as synonyms of the species. In 1899 botanist Gustav Heinrich Adolf Engler (1844 to 1930) reversed Schott and once again treated Philodendron hederaceum as four distinct species and declared Philodendron scandens, P. oxycardium, P. micans and a name were separate species. Despite the confusion, botanist Julian Alfred Steyermark (1909 to 1988) again reversed Engler and in 1958 cited the "species" were only synonyms of Philodendron hederaceum since their characteristics were the same. Other noted botanists have written opinions all along the way about the variation within the species Philodendron hederaceum and it is now considered a settled argument with P. hederaceum being the accepted species name and all others as synonyms.
Within the rules of botany it is well established that the very first name ever granted to a species becomes the accepted name. As a result, all the commonly used names for Philodendron hederaceum known by collectors are now synonyms of the accepted species and are no longer used within science.
The problem of incorrect multiple names for a single species has long been debated and understood. Attempts were made to correct the problem beginning many years ago and is not something recently created.
It is confusing but collectors don't always like to accept botanical science and prefer a different name for anything that does not look alike. Despite beliefs posted on the internet that botanists are perpetually toying with names and are "constantly changing" those names, the scientific fact is botanists are simply following the rules of botany as outlined by Linnaeus and no one has changed anything! These botanical scientists are simply following those rules as defined for centuries.
The "facial features" of a plant have nothing to do with the name of the species! Aroids are simply variable. The final determination of any species is based on the total characteristics of that plant including how it grows in nature, vein counts, specific characteristics such as node spacing and the sexual features of the inflorescence as well as other unique features. Appearance of the leaf face is not a valid way to identify a species and simply does not apply as a part of any scientific discussion relating to species.
When a botanist determines there is no scientific difference in Philodendron oxycardium, Philodendron scandens, Philodendron miduhoi and Philodendron hederaceum we are left only to go back to the first name ever assigned and that name is Philodendron hederaceum. It doesn't work well for plant collectors but it works fine for science. Collectors are the ones that perpetuate the confusion by using multiple names since botanists did not change the name of anything! Rather than "changing" a name they are forced to revert to the original name once a synonym is discovered.
There are books written for plant collectors that have attempted to make a "scientific" explanation of the use of multiple scientific names but that attempt is nothing more than pseudo-science. Two books, Tropica and Exotica by A. B. Graf have attempted to do just that and in Tropica there is an attempt to justify the use of many of the names above and to divide them into some sort of guide to determine the "differences". Tropica was never intended to be science, instead Mr. Graf started out to just bring the world of rare plant species to collectors.
Within Mr. Graf's texts there are many names that have no basis in science, someone simply made them up to sound scientific! Many of the names Graf chose to use never had any standing in science and were never published in any scientific journal! As a result of Mr. Graf I personally spent two years chasing "Philodendron mandaianum" and could never figure out why the name wasn't in a scientific text and to this day I do not know where Mr. Graf came up with the name. Mr. Graf was not a botanist, he was a horticulturist and a plant collector who did a good thing by introducing many of us to unusual species but his books are known to be filled with errors.
The species is easily grown in very porous soil that drains quickly. We use a mixture of moisture control soil, orchid bark, peat moss, Perlite, finely cut sphagnum moss and cedar mulch. You should not attempt to keep the roots wet! P. hederaceum will display best if given a totem to climb. The taller the totem the larger the leaves can grow. The species should be kept in moderately bright light with high humidity.
Attempting to grow one in a dark bathroom or living room with little light will eventually cause the plant not to flourish although it will benefit from the higher humidity. This species grows up in the rain forest canopy where it can easily gather light and the humidity is constantly high. For short periods of time lower light levels should not harm the ultimate health of a specimen. The brighter the light, the larger the leaves will grow.
The plant is easily reproduced by simply taking a cutting before any node on the vine. Place at least two nodes in porous soil and keep it damp with moderately bright light. Some like to root the plant in water but rooting in soil with the addition of a commercial rooting hormone will speed the process.
For more information regarding natural variation and morphogenesis (ontogeny), this link is written in non-technical language with photographic evidence included Morphogenesis and natural variation
The scientific information within this text was taken directly from the published treatment of P. hederaceum which was written by Dr. Tom Croat along with numerous email exchanges and visits. If you'd like to read that treatment you can locate it here: http://www.aroid.org/genera/philodendron/Philodendron/Solenosterigma/hederaceum.htm
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