Anthurium sp.



Anthurium sp.

Schott 1829

pronounced: an-THUR-ee-um species

(Araceae — the arum family)


common names: anthurium, flamingo flower

Anthurium is from the Greek ανθος (anthos), a flower, and ουρα (oura), a tail.

This is a very large genus of at least 600, and possibly 1,000 species, by far the largest in the arum family. The genus is found mainly in Panama, Colombia, Brazil, the Guiana Shield and Ecuador. Some species are found in Asian rainforests, but these are reckoned to have been introduced. Many species are undoubtedly not yet described, and new ones are being found every year.

Plants of this genus grow in many forms, mostly evergreen, bushy or climbing epiphytes with roots that can hang from the canopy all the way down to the floor of the rainforest. Some of these roots can be seen forming in the photograph. There are also many terrestrial forms found as understorey plants, as well as hemi-epiphytic forms. These last are plants capable of beginning life as a seed and sending roots to the soil, or beginning as a terrestrial plant that climbs a tree and then sends roots back to the soil. They also occur as lithophytes. Some are found only in association with colonies of arboreal ants.

The stems are short to elongate, 15–30 cm. The simple leaves come in many shapes; most leaves are found at the ends of the stems, although terrestrial plants show less of this tendency. Leaves may be spatulate, rounded, or obtuse at the apex. They may be borne erect, or spreading in a rosette, and may be as long as 100 cm in the larger species. The leaves are petiolate and possess a structure known as the geniculum, unique to this genus. The geniculum allows the plant to swivel its leaves towards the sun, in much the same manner as sunflowers.

The flowers develop crowded on the characteristic spadix of the Arum family. The flowers on the spadix are often divided sexually with a sterile band separating male from female flowers. The outer part of the inflorescence, the spathe, may be a single colour (yellow, green or white), or possibly multicoloured, including burgundy and red. Species grown for the florist trade generally have highly coloured spathes and spadices. The flowers of Anthurium give off a variety of fragrances, each attracting a specific pollinator.

The fruits are usually berries with one to multiple seeds on an infructescence that may be pendant or erect, depending on the species. The berries may range in colour from bright red to black, and may also be bicoloured or shaded.

The plant pictured, with its beautiful pink shading, is probably a hybrid based on Anthurium andreanum and Anthurium scherzerianum, and may be ‘Misty Rose’.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2010
Page last updated 10th October 2018