Epipremnum aureum

devil's ivy


Epipremnum aureum

(Linden & André) G.S.Bunting 1963

pronounced: ep-ih-PREM-num AW-ree-um

(Araceae — the arum family)

synonym — Scindapsus aureus

(Linden & André) Engl. 1908

pronounced: skin-DAP-suss AW-ree-uss

common names: devil's ivy, golden porthos, money plant

Epipremnum comes from two Greek words, επι (epi), upon, and πρεμνον (premnon), a tree stump, a very good name for the giant liana that festoons many of the trees on the island; aureum means ‘golden’.

This is a large-leafed fleshy climber originating from the Solomon Islands, and has spread itself all around the Pacific, being given noxious weed status in many islands and mainland countries. It is also very well-known in temperate climates as a hardy, almost indestructible, indoor plant. Although it likes to climb upwards, it will also develop a trailing habit if denied something to climb on. I have grown it very successfully as a trailing plant indoors in England, where it required constant pruning to keep it from taking over the house, especially when the central heating was turned on in winter. I have also grown it as a house plant in Picnic Bay. When grown indoors, the plant produces smaller leaves than it does when left to grow wild up a large tree. There are numerous cultivars selected for leaves with white, yellow, or light green variegation. Most of the cultivars are more fussy about amounts of light, heat and humidity than is the parent species. Devil’s Ivy is often used in decorative displays in shopping centres, offices and other public locations, largely because of the fact that it needs very little looking after, and is attractively leafy. It is also efficient at removing indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde.

In the outdoors, the vines will easily reach a height of 12 metres and more, with leaves reaching to about 60 cm in length and 40 – 45 cm in breadth. They have lateral veins slightly ascending, and the leaves of mature plants often become feathery. Aerial roots grow out of the main stem, and attach themselves to the host tree, or to anything else available. If they can reach the ground, they will often root, especially in a good wet season. The juvenile leaves are bright green, ovate-cordate in shape, and become variegated, splotched or marbled with yellow or white. They have a leathery consistency. In high light conditions, the leaves become predominately yellow. In lower light conditions, the leaves are much smaller, a deeper green, and tend to be less variegated.

Indoors the plants seldom flower. When flowers are produced, the bloom is a group of several spathes together, and erect. The spathe is cream, soon withering, boat-shaped; the spadix is cream, about 17 cm tall and 3 cm in diameter, slightly shorter than the spathe.

Berries are produced, each with one or two seeds. The plant is propagated from cuttings. If a plant is becoming too ‘leggy’, pinching out the growing tips in spring will cause it to bush out.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2010
Page last updated 22nd December 2018