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Anthurium andraeanum Linden ex André 1877
pronounced: an-THUR-ee-um an-dree-AH-num
(Araceae – the arum family)
common names: Flamingo Flower, Painter’s Palette
Anthurium is from the Greek ανθος (anthos), a flower, and ουρα (oura), a tail; andraeanum is for the French horticulturalist and landscape designer Édouard-François André (1840-1911), who discovered the plant while on a botanizing trip to the foothills of the Andes mountains in 1875-76.
This is a spectacular perennial epiphytic plant from the wet tropical mountain forests of Columbia and Ecuador, and so needs a warm, well-lit position if kept indoors, and a sheltered position on a verandah or in the garden when it is kept outdoors, as it may be in tropical regions. It does not like direct sunlight, but it will usually flourish when placed near windows where it receives filtered sun. The soil should be constantly moist in the growing season, but drier in winter. Any aerial roots should be misted regularly.
The plant typically grows to about 40 cm tall. The large, drooping, heart-shaped leaves are a glossy dark green, and grow to about 20 cm long. They arise in a clump from the crown of the plant. Each axillary flower features a creamy yellow spadix enclosed by a large, flat, waxy pink spathe up to about 15 cm long. The flowers are long-lasting, and, where the growing conditions are good, may appear throughout the year. Fruits seldom appear when plants are kept indoors, but sometimes small fleshy berries are produced.
Propagation may be by division, by seed, or by taking stem cuttings with two nodes or more. Cuttings should be put in water for about a month before being planted out in containers. While in water, they must be kept out of direct sunlight. Plants raised from seed may take up to 3 years to reach maturity and to start blooming.
An interesting way to grow the plant in a warm, humid greenhouse is to fix the plant to a piece of dead branch, surround the roots with sphagnum moss, tie everything together with nylon fishing line, and then hang the arrangement from the ceiling. This mimics the rainforest conditions. The moss should be kept moist, and the temperature should be kept above 16ºC.
The flowers make a fine addition to a floral arrangement, and a single specimen in a bud vase can last as long as 3 weeks.
When kept indoors, the plant is effective in removing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and ammonia from the air.
The Anthurium andraeanum plant contains Calcium oxalate, and is highly toxic if ingested. It causes painful irritation of the mouth and throat, which makes swallowing difficult. It should therefore be kept well away from pets and small children. In addition, sap from the plant can occasionally cause an allergic reaction.
Photographstaken in Picnic Bay 2011
Page last updated 7th October 2016