Tag Archives: Alocasia

Velvet aroids

I have compiled a list of some of the velvetiest aroids there are.  Not velvet Evlises, velvet aroids.  When I speak of velvet aroids, the main criteria is the feel of the leaves.  Some people describe a wide range of textures as being “velvety,” while others notice small differences in the textures that make them more “satiny” or more like velour.  The feel of the most velvety aroids is made possible due to tiny hairs which reside on the upper leaf surface.  Botanically speaking, this is referred to as velutinous (velvety) adaxial (upper) surfaces.

Most of my blog posts include pictures of my own plants, or at least pictures that I took while visiting some place with nice plants.  This post is an exception.  A majority of the pictures are being used, with permission, from various friends in the International Aroid Society.  Many of these are from Enid Offolter, of NSE Tropicals.  (By the way, Enid probably has the best selection of these plants available for sale.)  Since I don’t own many of these plants, I have to rely on other people’s pictures and descriptions for classifying them as velvety or something similar.  Which brings me to the secondary criteria for being on my velvet aroids list – which is appearance.  Most (but not all) of these plants have an iridescence when you look at the leaves, due to their velvetiness.  It is very prominent on some plants.  Sometimes this feature doesn’t always show up well in photographs, but there are quite a few photographs where you can see this.

Unknown velvet Anthurium at the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City
Unknown velvet Anthurium at the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City

I decided that I would concentrate on two genera only for this post – Anthurium and Philodendron.  There are certainly other aroids with velvety textures, although I do believe the most velvety aroids are from these two genera.  I have mentioned others at the end, but I know that when I depart from these two genera, I have no chance of being comprehensive, especially with the gazillion cultivars of Colocasia and Caladium, which are somewhat velvety.

I should also mention that some of these plants change texture with maturity.  For instance, Philodendron hederaceum is quite velvety in juvenile form, but eventually becomes glossy.  Other species only attain the velvety texture when they reach maturity.  Many times it is difficult to tell the differences in these different species, hybrids and cultivars, especially when you are switching back and forth between different websites.  It is a little easier to compare them here, with them all pictured together.  That was part of my impetus for writing this post.  In some cases, seeing their pictures side by side makes you wonder how they are different species!  (see Anthurium crystallinum and Anthurium clarinervium)  But there are distinct differences as you train your eye and begin to look at other parts of the plant, beyond the shape and colors of the leaves.  Enid Offolter has some expertise and tells me that the cross section of the petioles (3, 4 or 5 sided) can tell you a lot about these two plants and the various hybrids.  There is a really good discussion (with photos) about identifying the differences between Anthurium angamarcanum and Anthurium marmoratum here.

And now, on to the list…

 Velvet Anthuriums

Anthurium angamarcanum

If you clicked on that link above, you have already seen some photos of individual leaves of Anthurium angamarcanum, but below you can see a mature plant in all its glory.  Beautiful.

Anthurium angamarcanum
Anthurium angamarcanum at the Atlanta Botanical Garden - photo courtesy Brian Williams

Anthurium besseae

I am not really familiar with this plant and haven’t heard of anyone growing it in cultivation.  I only found a couple of websites with information on this plant.  Since one of them is Tropicos, I know that it is a valid species.

Anthurium besseae - photo courtesy Dr. Thomas Croat
Anthurium besseae - photo courtesy Dr. Thomas Croat

Anthurium clarinervium

This species is very hard for me to separate from Anthurium crystallinum (lower down in the post).  So, how do I know which one is which?  Well, here’s my method.  If the veins on the leaves are so vibrantly white/gold that they are burning your retinas…  that’s clarinervium.  (Did you click that link?  I did warn you.)  If the veins are vibrant but your retinas aren’t in pain, more likely crystallinum.

Anthurium clarinervium - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium clarinervium - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium UNKNOWN

This Anthurium has special leaves. They look like the skin of an elephant in their rough texture.  At the same time, they look soft.  See what I mean?  There is a plant in the Alocasia genus with similar looking leaves, but they are very stiff and not velvety.  That plant is Alocasia ‘Maharani.’

Anthurium UNKNOWN - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium UNKNOWN- photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium UNKNOWN - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer
Anthurium UNKNOWN - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer
Anthurium UNKNOWN (darker leaf) - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer
Anthurium UNKNOWN (darker leaf) - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Anthurium crystallinum

This is one of the few velvet plants that I own.  I just bought it at the IAS show and sale in Miami last September.  It is still a small plant, but it will one day be a huge and beautiful specimen (if I can keep it alive and happy).  It definitely does not loose it’s velvetiness with maturity.  In fact, this is probably one of those plants which becomes more velvety with age.

My little Anthurium crystallinum
My little Anthurium crystallinum
Anthurium crystallinum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium crystallinum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Sometimes this plant produces leaves with a closed sinus.  The sinus is the upper opening on the heart-shape.  A picture of Anthurium crystallinum with a closed sinus is shown on the Exotic Rainforest website, here.

Anthurium crystallinum - photo courtesy Christopher Rogers
Anthurium crystallinum - photo courtesy Christopher Rogers

Anthurium ‘Mehani’

As far as I understand, this plant is a cultivar of the species Anthurium crystallinum.  That just means that there were some desirable traits of a certain plant and it was propagated (probably cloned via tissue culture) so that all of the offspring would have the same traits.  It is usually just labeled Anthurium ‘Mehani’, but should really be labeled Anthurium crystallinum ‘Mehani.’

Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy mr_subjunctive
Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy mr_subjunctive
Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy mr_subjunctive
Anthurium 'Mehani' inflorescence - photo courtesy mr_subjunctive
Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium 'Mehani' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium forgetii

This plant is very uncommon in cultivation, but I did find a couple of nice photos.

Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy David Scherberich
Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy David Scherberich
Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium forgetii - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium hoffmannii

This is not a common plant in cultivation and it looks very similar to some of the other velvet Anthuriums.  I am told this one is more of a satiny texture.

Anthurium hoffmannii - photo courtesy Russ Hammer
Anthurium hoffmannii - photo courtesy Russ Hammer

Anthurium leuconeurum

According to Deni Brown’s book “Aroids: plants of the Arum family”, this might not be a species, but a naturally occurring hybrid.  For the time being it is given species status.  Here are a couple of links with some information on this plant: World Field Guide, Araceum.

Anthurium leuconeurum - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer
Anthurium leuconeurum - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Anthurium magnificum

This is one of those plants that is a little more satiny than velvety, I am told.

Anthurium magnificum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium magnificum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium marmoratum

This Anthurium has large leaves whose leaves are strongly iridescent.

Anthurium marmoratum - photo courtesy Steve Lucas
Anthurium marmoratum - photo courtesy Steve Lucas
Anthurium marmoratum - photo courtesy Ron Kaufmann
Anthurium marmoratum - photo courtesy Ron Kaufmann
Anthurium marmoratum with inflorescence - photo courtesy Ron Kaufmann
Anthurium marmoratum with inflorescence - photo courtesy Ron Kaufmann

Anthurium pallidiflorum

This is a strap-leaf, pendent Anthurium, with satiny iridescent leaves.  I have a small seedling of this plant, but it’s nothing to look at yet.  Here’s an excellent picture, and another here.

Anthurium pallidiflorum - photo courtesy Christopher Rogers
Anthurium pallidiflorum - photo courtesy Christopher Rogers

Anthurium papillilaminum

This plant blows me away.  Check out those dark leaves with such an interesting shape.  Very cool.

Anthurium papillilaminum - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter
Anthurium papillilaminum - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

Anthurium portilloi

This is one of those plants that might be better described as satiny, as opposed to velvety.  It certainly looks that way from the picture.

Anthurium portilloi
Anthurium portilloi - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

Anthurium regale

This is one of the more common velvet Anthuriums in cultivation (not that any of them are really common).  It looks very similar to A. crystallinum, A. clarinervium and A. magnificum.  The main difference in appearance, that I notice, is that the sinus of A. regale is considerably wider than any of the others.  One of Steve Lucas’s photos has been immortalized on the latest International Aroid Society promotional brochures.

Anthurium regale - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium regale - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium vittariifolium

This is another of the strap-leaf, pendent Anthuriums.  It has satiny leaves of a silver-blue-green color.  There are also some really nice pictures of strap-leaved Anthuriums at the Palm Talk forum here.

Anthurium vittariifolium - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium vittariifolium - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium vittariifolium at the Audubon House, Key West, Florida
Anthurium vittariifolium at the Audubon House, Key West, Florida

Anthurium warocqueanum

This beautiful Anthurium is known for it’s long and slender leaves with velvet texture.  It has been given the common name “Queen Anthurium”, while Anthurium veitchii is known as the “King Anthurium.”  While both of these plants have long, slender leaves, the King Anthurium has a slick, glossy texture to the dark leaves.

The Queen Anthurium - Anthurium warocqueanum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
The Queen Anthurium - Anthurium warocqueanum - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium warocqueanum (wide leaf) - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium warocqueanum (wide leaf variety) - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium ‘Ace of Spades’

This plant is presumed to be a hybrid, but the parentage is unknown.  The hybrid is believed to have originated in Hawaii and that’s about all we know.  The most prominent characteristic is the bronze/red leaves, which you can see in each of the following images.

Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' - photo courtesy Leslie Rule
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' - photo courtesy Leslie Rule
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' with inflorescence - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer
Anthurium 'Ace of Spades' with inflorescence - photo courtesy Taylor Holzer

Anthurium ‘Dark Mama’ (Anth. warocqueanum x. Anth. papillilaminum)

This hybrid is the offspring of a set of velvety Anthuriums, resulting in a really unique leaf shape and great, dark color.  Look at the iridescence showing up on that lower right leaf.  Beautiful.

Anthurium hybrid (A. warocqueanum x. A. papillilaminum)
Anthurium 'Dark Mama' (A. warocqueanum x. A. papillilaminum) - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

Anthurium ‘Kybutzii’

This plant is of unknown origin.  It might be a species or it could be a naturally occurring hybrid.  It has large, satiny leaves and what appears to be raised primary veins on the adaxial (upper) leaf surface.

Anthurium 'Kybutzii' - photo courtesy Leland Miyano
Anthurium 'Kybutzii' - photo courtesy Leland Miyano

Anthurium ‘Nikki’

This is another Anthurium hybrid of unknown parentage.  It came from a notable grower in India.

Anthurium 'Nikki' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium 'Nikki' - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium 'Nikki' variegated - photo courtesy Enid Offolter
Anthurium 'Nikki' variegated - photo courtesy Enid Offolter

Anthurium hybrid (Anth. magnificum x. Anth. crystallinum)

Of all the pictures in this post, I think this one is the most striking.  This is quite a unique hybrid.  The most recent plant sold for $52.50 on eBay!

Anthurium hybrid (A. magnificum x. A. crystallinum)
Anthurium hybrid (A. magnificum x. A. crystallinum) - photo courtesy of Enid Offolter

This post continues, so please click on the “2” below.

Plant Find: My Florida plant acquisitions

While in Florida I got a LOT of plants.  Most of these were either aroids or orchids.  First, let me show you the aroids I got.

Anthurium ottonis
Anthurium ottonis

Anthurium ottonis

This little Anthurium attracted me with its lanceolate leaves.  It is a very healthy little plant and I look forward to seeing this grow into a mature specimen.

Anthurium crystallinum
Anthurium crystallinum

Anthurium crystallinum

This is one of the velvety Anthuriums with prominent iridescent veins.  Again, this is just a small plant, but if it likes my growing conditions then it will become a beautiful large plant within a year or two.

Aglaonema modestum variegated
Aglaonema modestum variegated

Aglaonema modestum variegated

This is actually the only Aglaonema I purchased at the show.  There were a couple others that I eyed, but ultimately I ran out of packing room (and money), so I stopped with this one.  It is one of the few variegated Aglaonemas in cultivation.  Most Aglaonemas have interesting leaf patterns, with various shades of green and some silvers, but few have white patches like this one.

Alocasia 'Maharani'
Alocasia 'Maharani'

Alocasia ‘Maharani’

This is one I had never seen before.  It is a beautiful Alocasia with dark leaves that have a rough texture and a rigidity unlike any of my other plants.  I’m really hoping this isn’t a high maintenance plant, but it might be.  For now it seems pretty happy, sitting in a very shady spot on the floor of my greenhouse.

Dieffenbachia oerstedii – no picture

I hadn’t heard of this Dieffenbachia before, but it was a species and it was from Dr. Croat, so how could I pass it up!?!  Dieffenbachias are a really neat genus of aroids that I enjoy, though I don’t have too many in my collection.  This particular species develops a strong white midrib at maturity, which is striking in contrast to the otherwise dark green leaves.

Philodendron gloriosum and Encyclia plicata
Encyclia plicata (in mesh basket) and Philodendron gloriosum

Philodendron gloriosum

Christie and I both fell in love with this Philodendron and decided to buy it out of our general budget, rather than my plant allowance.  Since then it has gone by the moniker of “family plant.”

The IAS show and sale is set up with the show plants in the middle of the room.  Along one wall are vendors with plants for sale and along another wall are plants for sale that will benefit the IAS.  Dr. Croat brought a bunch of items from the Missouri Botanical Garden for sale at the IAS show.  These plants are either species that were wild collected or propagated from his wild collections.

Pinellia pinnatipartita (IAS show)

The one exception, I believe, was a big trash bag full of Pinellia pinnatipartitas, which I think Dr. Croat had yanked out of his yard to thin out his own crop.  There was a sign on the bag, boldly announcing “Guaranteed success!”  As if that weren’t enticing enough, they were marked $1.  So, naturally, I got one.  Taylor picked through the bag for me and found a really nice, large tuber and it was one that had just fruited, so I have a bunch of seeds in addition to the healthy tuber.

tubers of Pinellia ternata (IAS show) – no picture

Pinellias are one of the aroid genera with several varieties hardy in my zone.  For now, I have potted these tubers of Pinellia ternata and put them in the greenhouse.  However, I plan to plant them outdoors next spring and then let them stay outside for good.  I want to develop a little garden of hardy aroids.

Rhaphidophora hayi
Rhaphidophora hayi

Rhaphidophora hayi (IAS auction)

This is really my first shingling aroid.  I made up a tentative list of plants I would like to purchase at the IAS show before I left.  Not really knowing what I would find, it was just a wishlist of things I was hoping to find.  One of the items was “a shingling aroid.”  There were some for sale, but I was overlooking them for other plants.  Then there was one available at the auction and I ended up getting an excellent deal on this little plant, donated by Palm Hammock.  It is now propped against the back wall of the greenhouse, where I am hoping it will start to shingle up on the brick wall of the house.

Now, here are the plants I purchased, which were not aroids.

Encyclia plicata blooms
Encyclia plicata blooms

Encyclia plicata (above) and Encyclia tampensis (below) – both from Ruben in Orchids

As mentioned in a previous post, I purchased two Encyclias at Ruben in Orchids.  One of them (Encyclia plicata) had a long bloom spike with these really neat flowers (above) and was growing in a mesh basket.  The other (below) was on my wishlist of plants to purchase in Florida.  It is the “Florida Butterfly Orchid” (Encyclia tampensis) and the plant that I kept seeing all over my everglades boardwalk.  It is a mature, mounted plant and had already finished blooming, with several dead bloom spikes on it when I purchased it.  Next year I hope to have as many spikes as it had this last summer.

Encyclia tampensis
Encyclia tampensis


Dendrobium nobile
Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium nobile (from R.F. Orchids)

I purchased two cheap orchids at R.F. Orchids – one a species Dendrobium nobile (above) and the other a hybrid Vanda. The Dendrobium was a collection of keikis that had been cut off mature plants and bundled together for $8.   The Vanda is young now, but someday it should look like a mixture of the parents, which are pictured below.

Vanda hybrid
Vanda hybrid

Vanda hybrid (V. Crownfox Black Forest x V. Judie McKemie) (from R.F. Orchids)

Vanda hybrid parents
Vanda hybrid parents
A nice Dendrobium in bloom
A nice Dendrobium in bloom

Dendrobium in bloom (from The Banyan Garden in the Keys)

There are still a couple of “trip reports” I plan to write in the coming weeks about special planty places I visited while in Florida.  One of those places is called The Banyan Garden, which is located on the island of Islamorada in the Florida Keys.  I bought this cheap and beautiful blooming Dendrobium there.

My favorite cheap Phalaenopsis
My favorite cheap Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis in bloom (from Redlands roadside stand)

I already told you about my steals in south Miami – orchid country.  Here are their pictures, again.

Harlequin Phalaenopsis
Harlequin Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis (harlequin) in bloom (from Redlands roadside stand)

Harlequin Phalaenopsis are the “in thing” right now.  The name refers to the spotting pattern on the flower petals.  I’m told this is a generic term applied to dog and horse breeds, as well.

Silver Buttonwood cuttings
Silver Buttonwood cuttings. I really hope these are rooting, but I just don't know.

Silver Buttonwoods

There were Silver Buttonwoods (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus) everywhere in Florida.  Most were trees, but quite a few were bushes or well-manicured hedges.  We stopped to admire this beautiful tree at our very first lunch stop in Miami – on our way to the Everglades.  On the last day of our trip, I took some cuttings from a couple trees in the Keys.  The cuttings are now in a jar of moist vermiculite, hopefully rooting.  I put some other cuttings directly in water and they quickly wilted.  Since the cuttings in vermiculite still look fresh and happy I have high hopes that good things are happening.  We’ll see in a couple of months.

Three little Tillandsias
Three little Tillandsias

Tillandsias

Tillandias grow everywhere in southern Florida.  I have never grown any myself, but I am hoping I will have some luck with these.

Zamia furfuraceae hedge with seedlings at the base
Zamia furfuraceae "hedge" with seedlings at the base

Zamia furfuraceae seedlings (from Key West, Florida)

Cycads are very common in southern Florida.  In many places they are grown so thick that they can be cut into hedges.  The above picture is from our hotel in Key West, where they were being trimmed into rectangular hedges.  These plants were “coning” like crazy and the seedlings were thick at their base.

Yes, I really did pack all of this in suitcases to bring home!

Trip Report: The Audubon House

While in Key West last month, we visited “The Audubon House.”  You would think with a name like this that the house would have once been under the ownership of someone with the name of Audubon.  It turns out the connection is a little less direct.  John James Audubon, the well known historical figure for his art depicting American birds, traveled to the Florida Keys in 1831 in order to paint the native birds of Florida.  While he was in the Keys, he stayed at the house next door to this house.

The Audubon House
The Audubon House
John James Audubon's travels through Florida
John James Audubon's trip to the Florida Keys

The house has been preserved and connected with Audubon because he admired the gardens while he was in the area and supposedly painted some of the trees and plants into his portraits of various Florida birds.  The gardens have been kept in great condition as a tribute.

Roseate Spoonbill portrait by John James Audubon
Roseate Spoonbill portrait by John James Audubon - my favorite from the Florida collection.
Tree loaded with blooming orchids in front of Audubon House
Tree loaded with blooming orchids in front of Audubon House

The house is now a shrine to his work and has a very nice garden outside.  We toured the house and gardens outside, enjoying the beautiful setting.  I think Christie and I could settle into this house just fine.  The trees outside are covered in orchids, and many of them were in bloom for our visit.

Brassavola orchid
Brassavola orchid
Crinum lily bloom
Crinum lily bloom

Other interesting plants filled the flowerbeds, including a couple of large Crinum lilies, some yellow Walking Iris (Neomarica longifolia), and a nice Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida).

The yellow walking iris - Neomarica longifolia
The yellow walking iris - Neomarica longifolia
Chenille plant - Acalypha hispida
Chenille plant - Acalypha hispida

There were lots of Calatheas scattered throughout the gardens, and concentrated here and there.  I have seen these growing in many botanic gardens, but not very often in an outdoor setting.

Calathea Peacock (so the sign reads)
Calathea Peacock (so the sign reads)

The gardens also contain some Florida native plants, which would have been important to Audubon, as he preferred to paint his birds sitting on authentic trees and plants to the area where he would find them in nature.  One of the natives I really liked was this cycad, Zamia floridana.

Florida native cycad "Coontie" - Zamia floridana
Florida native cycad "Coontie" - Zamia floridana
Christie under a nice Staghorn fern
Christie under a nice Staghorn fern
Philodendron stenolobum
Philodendron stenolobum

There were also some nice aroids, including this large Philodendron stenolobum (above) and Alocasia portei (below). I loved the pendant Anthurium vittariifolium, with its pink berries showing (two below) and now have a small seedling plant from a recent plant trade. I hope my plant is this attractive some day.

A large Alocasia portei
A large Alocasia portei (in the center of the image)
Anthurium vittariifolium with berries on spadix
Anthurium vittariifolium with berries on spadix
Chamaedorea metallica
Chamaedorea metallica

My second favorite palm in the entire family is Chamaedorea metallica, which is called the Miniature Fishtail Palm, or Metallic Palm.  It has silver-blue leaves and striking orange flowers and berries.  It is small for a palm, with a maximum size of only 5 or 6 feet tall, and it is therefore usually growing as an understory tree.

Bed of Sansevierias
Bed of Sansevierias - probably Sansevieria metallica.

You probably already know that I like Stapelias. Am I crazy or do the buds of the Stapelia below look just as cool as the open bloom? Yes, I did bend down and stick my nose into the flower to smell the pungency. And yes, I did request Christie do the same. She grudgingly did so – after a third or fourth request.

Stapelia leendertziae
Stapelia leendertziae in bloom.

The Audubon House sits on a lot large enough to have several wandering paths through the gardens and 2 separate set-aside gardens: a water garden and an herb garden. The water garden was very tastefully designed, with some heron statues in the pond. I’m sure JJ Audubon would have liked to sit and stare at these nice statues.  The setting of this garden is similar to what I have talked about doing with a portion of our backyard, with the ground paved in either bricks or rock and a shallow pond or other small water feature.  Just a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.

The appropriately decorated Audubon water garden
The appropriately decorated Audubon water garden.

Alocasia appearing

Lately it seems my Alocasias are really taking off.  While many of them don’t like direct sun, they sure do like the heat!  Some of my Alocasias kind of died back over the winter, but they have reemerged with new offsets after their dormancy.  First, I give you my Alocasia amazonica, also known as African Shield.  I like to call it the “pterodactyl plant” and I’m not sure why everyone else doesn’t do the same.   This plant I have had for 2.5 years.  I know, because I blogged when I bought it (the second time).

Alocasia amazonica
Alocasia amazonica

Next, is Alocasia wentii, which is fairly new to me.  I just got it last fall, before it stopped growing.  It didn’t go completely dormant, keeping one or two leaves through the winter, but it wasn’t actively growing.  Now it is putting out a new, glossy leaf and the coloring is really nice.

Alocasia wentii
Alocasia wentii

This next Alocasia is my favorite.  I have had it for a couple of years.  It was big and mature when I bought it, but it went through spider mite and mealy bug infestations and lost a lot of leaves.  Now the original plant is doing pretty well and even has put out 4 offsets!  I have an Alocasia gageana, a gift from Steve Lucas, which constantly produces new offsets, but my others have been much slower to do this.  I’m looking forward to my little herd of Alocasia lauterbachiana.

Alocasia lauterbachiana offsets
Alocasia lauterbachiana offsets

Another “Alocasia” I got in the fall went completely dormant through the winter.  I thought I had lost it.  But I cut back on watering, so as not to rot out the bulb.  Then I started watering again in the Spring and it has sprung to life!  I got the plant through a trade labeled Alocasia ‘Hilo Beauty’, as it has been called for many years.  It turns out the plant belongs in the Caladium genus and it is a true species, Caladium praetermissum.  I don’t really know how it ever got the name Hilo connected with it, unless a grower in Hawaii started distributing it first.  Maybe someone just decided it looked like something that would grow in Hawaii…  Apparently the incorrect name started with Graf’s Exotica, a book which is well known as a source of wonderful pictures and outdated names.

Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty'
Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty'

Anyway, it is not surprising that this plant’s genus was misappropriated for many years.  The Caladium, Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma genera are the most often confused in the aroid family, as I’ve mentioned before.  Many people avoid this confusion by calling them all “elephant ears.”  Score 1 for common names.

Alocasia aurora
Alocasia aurora

The final plant is Alocasia aurora (Alocasia ‘Pink Stem’). This one, as you can tell by that second name, has a very distinct pink petiole. This one also has a new pup forming.

Trip Report: Conservatory highlights from the IAS meeting in Fort Worth

I could probably write dozens of posts about our meeting this last Saturday at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.  Instead, I think I’ll write two or three posts, focusing on a couple of topics.  This post, is just some picture highlights from the conservatory.

Plant swap table beginning to fill up
Plant swap table beginning to fill up

After a morning full of talks and a nice lunch from Jason’s Deli, we held a plant swap among those who attended. There were so many plants that they overflowed the table and were spread out on the floor.  Philodendron, Monstera, Rhaphidophora, Anthurium, Amorphophallus, and even some Begonia and Orchids were available for trade.  It was a gigantic free-for-all and everyone benefited.

Urospatha in bloom
Urospatha in bloom

Out in the hallway by the entrance to our meeting room, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens had on display a beautiful and tall (approximately 7 foot) Urospatha in bloom.   This was an incredible plant with uniquely marked stems and an amazing bloom, whose spathe curved away like in an elegant arc.

Great group of plant friends beginning a tour of the FWBG conservatory
Great group of plant friends beginning a tour of the FWBG conservatory

There were about 15 people in attendance and everyone really enjoyed themselves.  Some of us knew each other from previous meetings and email discussions and others were meeting for the first time.  There was even one long-time IAS member who has been a well-known figure in Aroids for 30 years or more.

Crepuscular rays shining into the conservatory
Crepuscular rays shining into the conservatory. It felt like the Garden of Eden.

The conservatory at the FWBG is very well kempt.  The plants are in great condition and there is a nice collection of Aroids, as well as several other families of plants that I like to grow (like Marantaceae).

Our hands-on tour guide, John Langevin, showing off a plant
Our hands-on tour guide, John Langevin, showing off a plant

We were given a guided tour by John Langevin, who was generous enough to offer several of us cuttings or small plants from different parts of the collection, contributing lots of plants to our plant swap.  He was very knowledgeable about the collection and made the tour enjoyable.

Fruit and seeds from Theobroma cacao (Chocolate tree)
Fruit and seeds from Theobroma cacao (Chocolate tree)

John removed one of the fruits from the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) and cut it open so that we could taste the pulp which surrounds the seeds.  I thought I smelled something resembling chocolate when he opened the fruit, but what I tasted was very different.  The pulp had more of a mild citrus taste with the texture of a slimy banana.   I brought two seeds home with me and will see if I can get them to germinate.

Calathea ecuadoriana
Calathea ecuadoriana

I knew from my previous visit that the conservatory has a really nice collection of Marantaceae, but I was surprised to see a species of Calathea that I hadn’t seen before.  Calathea ecuadoriana looks very similar to Calathea zebrina and Calathea warscewiczii, which are already hard enough to separate!  They all have rich, deeply-colored, velvety leaves of green and purple.

Beautiful pendant Anthurium
Beautiful pendant Anthurium

There were a number of nice Anthuriums growing in the conservatory.  One of my favorites was the simple pendant Anthurium pictured above.  I like the long, slender leaves of the pendant Anthuriums.

The rare inflorescence of Scindapsus pictus
The rare inflorescence of Scindapsus pictus

Many people grow the Scindapsus pictus, sometimes called Satin Pothos vine, in their homes.  I have one on my desk at work and one in our dining room at home.  In most cases, these plants are grown in hanging baskets, or just in regular pots.  Rarely are they grown in a situation where they can scale a wall, as they like to do in nature.  This “shingling” habit is their preferred growth type.  Even in locations where they are grown shingling on a rock wall, they rarely bloom outside of their natural habitat.  However, the plants growing in the FWBG conservatory have bloomed regularly.  We got to see one of these early-stage inflorescences on Saturday.  What impressed me was the shape of the inflorescence, almost spherical in comparison to most other Aroid blooms.  It is also interesting that the plant blooms on pieces of the vine which have detached themselves from the wall where the rest of the plant is shingling.

Calathea loeseneri bloom
Calathea loeseneri bloom

Calatheas are not known for their blooms, but for their foliage. However, there are a couple of Calatheas that have very nice blooms (and much less interesting foliage).  One of these is Calathea loeseneri, which was in bloom this Saturday on our visit.  I was lucky enough to get to take home one stem of this plant.

Metallic fishtail palm
Metallic fishtail palm (Chamaedorea metallica)

The so-called Fishtail palms are given the common name designation because of the shape of their leaves.  Usually these palms are smaller than the more typical palm specimens which reach towering heights of 70-100 feet.  John told me that this particular palm (Chamaedorea metallica) stays smaller and has colorful fronds, making it a good specimen for a houseplant.  I really liked the silvery coloring of the leaves, no doubt the reason for it’s species name of metallica.

Screwpine Palm (Pandanus)
Screwpine Palm (Pandanus)

The Screwpine Palm (Pandanus sp.) is interesting because of the gigantic roots which are sent out in all directions to support the large tree.  The Screwpine growing in the FWBG conservatory was right next to the water and the roots which landed in water burst into thousands of smaller roots (below).  I imagine the roots which burrow into the ground do something similar.

Screwpine palm (Pandanus) roots in water
Screwpine Palm (Pandanus) roots in water

One Alocasia caught many people’s eyes as we passed on our tour.  Unfortunately, this plant did not have an ID tag anywhere in sight.   Maybe I’ll be able to get an ID online.

Unidentified Alocasia
Unidentified Alocasia with unique coloration - Update: Caladium picturatum