Your opinion please. Websites say "tree" Philodendron don't climb. Do they?

Discussion in 'Araceae' started by photopro, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Just a little opinion poll.

    I've found at least 10 websites (some quite "official") that state the "tree" Philodendron such as Philodendron bipinnatifidum will not climb. Philodendron bipinnatifidum is commonly sold as Philodendron selloum.

    Do you believe this? Can you tell me why you believe it?
     

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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Re: Your opinon please. Websites say "tree" Philodendron don't climb. Do they?

    Obviously they do, or you wouldn't have posed the question . . .

    Maybe it depends on how you define 'climb'? I can predict for certain that they can't climb to the top of Mt Everest. Pehaps the websites are using that as a definition?? ;-)
     
  3. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Re: Your opinon please. Websites say "tree" Philodendron don't climb. Do they?

    Yes, I already know the answer but I'm really trying to learn why people believe what they believe. And no, I mean to climbing to normal heights in a rain forest which is around 30 meters (100 feet).

    If you just do a search for Philodendron bipinnatifidum you'll find quite a few sites that pass along the information these plants don't climb.

    I'm just trying to run down the source.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Re: Your opinon please. Websites say "tree" Philodendron don't climb. Do they?

    It definitely couldn't have started down here. P. bipinnatifidum for gardens is generally harvested from climbing-age plants, and last time I was at a nursery they told me that I needed to plant it at the base of a tree so that it could really take off.
     
  5. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Beth. I was hoping you'd jump in here since I was certain you had seen these plants in the wild.

    Still, the State of Florida, a Houston newspaper, and a bunch of websites say otherwise. This information must be in print somewhere and I'm trying to figure out where.

    Here's a photo of Philodendron bipinnatifidum (Philodendron selloum) 30 meters (100 feet) up in the canopy in Brazil. I guess someone forgot to tell this plant it can't climb.

    The photo is used with permission.
     

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  6. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Well, given the structural similarities between the big Meconostigma Philos and the Monsteras, I'm not really surprised.
     
  7. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    seems to me that the 'they don't climb' is being applied across the board to all plants in the species - which shows lack of complete/proper knowledge as well as laziness (to not check it for sure).

    also could be a bit of a marketing thing - if the plants aren't grown properly, they'll end up failing. so, the sellers end up with repeat business to replace plants that have died...
     
  8. LariAnn

    LariAnn Active Member

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    I know for a fact that Meconostigma philos climb, as I have one of my hybrids climbing up a bamboo pole and another one climbing up a cypress tree! Some of them have what I call "prehensile roots", so named because they wrap around the support much as a monkey's prehensile tail does.

    Note the roots wrapped around the bamboo in the picture below.

    LariAnn
    Aroidia Research
     

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  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Great photo LariAnn! And your response could well be true Joclyn.

    I simply become curious when I have such a quote forwarded to me, especially when the sender is attempting to disprove something an accredited botanist has said in a scientific text. I have stated on two or three places on my own website that Philodendron bipinnatifidum does climb but a few nice folks just won't believe the science books because their "trusted" websites say otherwise.

    I correspond on a relatively regular basis with Dr. Simon Mayo of the Royal Botanic Garden Kew in London. Simon has authored or coauthored a number of the most important texts and papers on Philodendron and Araceae (aroids) in general and is one of the most reliable sources for accurate scientific information on Meconostigma species in the world.

    Most people don't know (and probably don't care) but the 1000 or so species of Philodendron are actually divided into three subgenera one fairly large. The most common group is Philodendron subgenus Philodendron and the majority of the Philodendron plants we grow are found in that group.

    The second and smallest is Philodendron subgenus Meconostigma which contains all the "tree Philodendron" which are capable of standing on their own for some period of time. These are fairly easy to recognize since they appear to grow a "trunk". The "trunk" is really just the stem which produces the roots and the petioles which support the leaves.

    The third subgenus is one that plant growers rarely encounter due to their requirements for specialized growing methods as well as the difficulty in keeping them alive in a collection. That one is Philodendron subgenus Pteromischum. Although I grow many Philodendron species I have a grand total of two in that subgenus.

    Just out of curiosity LariAnn, how many do you grow in the subgenus?

    The "Tree Philodendron" are found largely in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. Although quite a few websites claim species known as "tree Philodendron" (subgenus Meconostigma) do not climb that information has no basis in science. This claim is often made in regard to Philodendron bipinnatifidum which is often known by collectors as Philodendron selloum.

    However, in his scientific paper A Revision of Philodendron Subgenus Meconostigma (Araceae) Dr. Mayo describes these species as being hemiepiphitic. A hemiepiphyte (hemi-EPI-fit) is a plant that normally begins life when a seed falls to the ground and then climbs a tree in order to reach the light and gain size.

    Again, in the scientific text The Genera of Araceae by Mayo, Bogner and P.C. Boyce when discussing the roots of climbing aroids the text states, "Roots in Araceae are always adventitious and dimorphic roots are often found in climbing hemiepiphytes, e.g. Monstera deliciosa, Philodendron bipinnatifidum." Adventitious roots form from shoot tissues, not from another root while dimorphic indicates the roots grow in two distinct forms. As a result of the mentions by a variety of scientific texts some growers and website owners just refuse to accept science. Despite the apparent belief Meconostigma species don't climb which as Joclyn said didn't do their "homework" they are frequently found climbing in the rain forest as Beth stated.

    Although Meconostigma species are commonly sold as landscape plants in South and Central Florida if you drive into the older neighborhoods in southern Miami (Cutler Ridge or the Coral Gables area) or into the agricultural area between Homestead and Miami you can find these trees growing straight up the sides of large trees which incredible roots systems hanging downward. In the rain forest they commonly grow to 30 meters or higher (100 plus feet).

    When Dr. Mayo responded to my query asking if in his opinion Meconostigma, especially Philodendron bipinnatifidum, should be represented as non-climbers he responded in this way, "Yes Philodendron bipinnatifidum certainly does climb but from what I've seen the way it does it is different from Subgenus Philodendron and subgenus Pteromischum species which emit relatively fine anchor roots at or near the nodes. In P. bipinnatifidum and other members of Subgenus Meconostigma the anchor roots are pretty thick and can wrap themselves around small tree stems like ropes. It is almost as if the plant hauls itself into the canopy. I've seen plants suspended between neighboring small trees by these roots. They do have a very adaptable kind of growth habit, which I suppose goes along with their natural ecology, preferring rather higher light intensity situations than "normal"

    Still, I'd really like to find where the information claiming they don't climb found its way onto the internet. Just like other plant "myths" the info appears to be multiplying itself and growers that don't do research before they buy just accept it as fact.

    Some book somewhere, likely a gardening guide, must have said so and as a result people just repeat what they believe from website to website. Surely someone on this forum has read that book!
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  10. LariAnn

    LariAnn Active Member

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    Steve, if you are referring to plants I have that are in the subgenus Pteromischum, I can't say as I don't have a species list to reference. A quick Google search yields a pile of websites referencing or offering for sale Dr. Simon's Revision of Philodendron Subgenus Meconostigma (Araceae), but none listing the actual species in the subgenus.

    So the answer is - I don't know!
     
  11. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Of the two I grow the only easy one is Philodendron camposportoanum from Brazil. The other is one I recently acquired and haven't even added to my site yet. In fact, I just went out to find it so I could check the tag and the plant is hanging from a chain to gather better light so I don't even remember the name.

    http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Philodendron Camposportoanum pc.html

    I have Dr. Michael Grayum's journal Revision of Philodendron subgenus Pteromischum and even though it is filled with photos I've only seen a few of the plants in any botanical garden. Even the Missouri Botanical Garden research greenhouse has few living specimens most are stored in the herbarium as only dried scientific material.

    Mike is a very quiet man but when i finally got to meet him in June, 2009 I asked why they are so hard to grow. He really didn't give me a concrete answer. I'd really like to know why, but they do appear to be very difficult!

    I was recently told there is another plant from the subgenus being sold as a terrarium specimen but I can't find any information on what the species might be.

    I'm told by some experienced growers such as Conrad Fleming they need very specific humidity and light levels as well as other tender care and just don't survive as house plants and often not in a tropical green house.

    If you'd like to have a copy I found Dr. Grayum's text on Amazon.com. I found it to be very well written and filled with information I've never found in any other journal. Maybe you can figure out why they are so tough!
     

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