Philodendron herbaceum Croat & Grayum
  • Phytologia 73: 34 (1992) 

Notes: Distribution: Costa Rica to Ecuador

General Description

Slender-stemmed vine clambering among understory shrubs and treeless or climbing (often twining) on small trunks to no more than ca. 3 m above ground, the fertile branches divergent with the inflorescences held erect. Internodes 0.5-11.4 cm long, 0.4-0.5 cm wide, green to dark green, weakly glossy to glossy, drying green, finely striate, the epidermis typically tessellate; roots present but few at distal nodes, to ca. 2.0 mm in diameter. LEAVES: Petiole (5.4-) 7.4-10.5 (-12.4) cm long, P/L=0.43-0.67 (-0.77), extensively sheathed, the sheath involute, the margins scarious and brittle, the free portion prolonged by 1.0-5.0 (-11.0) mm; unsheathed portion of petiole obsolete or to 0.3 cm long. Lamina (7.9-) 10.7-19.9 (-23.8+) cm long, (3.5-) 4.0- 8.8 (-10.3) wide, L/W=(1.78-) 1.99-3.39 (-3.97+), IQI=(1-) 4-9 (-11), membranous or thinly coriaceous, subchartaceous, senmiglossy to (less typically) glossy above, matte or (most typically) weakly glossy to glossy below, essentially concolorous or weakly bicolored, lanceolate to narrowly or ± broadly ovate, oblanceolate or elliptical (broadest below to above the middle), somewhat abruptly (rarely) to gradually short. to (much more frequently) long-acuminate apically [the acumen ca. 0.6-2.0 (-2.6) cm long], cuneate to rounded or subtruncate or (Centinela Ridge) subcordate basally; midrib sunken above, convex below; primary lateral veins (7-) 9-12 (-14) per side, 0.2-2.3cm apart, sunken above, convex below; minor veins obscurely to plainly visible below, darker and slightly prominulous; abaxial laminar surface drying densely and uniformly low-asperous-granular, with reticulate veins visible only marginally or rarely (Centinela Ridge) prominent throughout; stitching not evident, or cream-colored stitches obvious to abundant; resin canals may be visible flanking some primary veins; adaxial surface virtually smooth to (more usually) moderately to rather densely and uniformly low-granular or somewhat alveolate, with reticulate veins usually visible only toward the margins; white stitching very rare to (rarely) obscure and scattered; resin canals not evident. INFLORESCENCES solitary or (less commonly) paired; cataphylls occasional, 3.9-5.3 cm long, 0.35-0.55 cm wide, lanceolate, sharply 2-keeled; peduncle 1.6-4.0 (-4.5) cm long, P/S= (0.19-) 0.21-0.43, subterete, with raised whitish striations; spathe at anthesis 7.9-14.2 (-16.0) cm long, 1.4-2.5 cm wide, externally semiglossy, pale yellow-green to green below with the veins ± impressed and sometimes darker, yellowish green to greenish white, cream-colored or white distally, internally rather uniformly light green to white; spathe drying uniformly and densely granular with ± visible resin canals externally, often with white stitching, especially toward the margins, internally rather densely and finely farinose-granular and distantly reticulate-veined, rarely with white stitching toward the margins, with longitudinal secretory striations restricted to basal 1 cm or (more usually) not evident and apparently not present; acumen of spathe (0.3-) 0.5-1.4 cm long. Stipe of spadix (0.35-) 0.55-0.95 cm long; spadix (7.3-) 8.4-12.2 (-15.0) cm long, the fertile male portion (0.30-) 0.45-0.60 (-0.70) cm wide, white; apical sterile male zone 1.8-4.2 cm long; intermediate sterile male zone 0.25-0.80 cm long; female portion of spadix 2.0-3,9 (-4.1) cm long, F/S=(0.17-) 0.23-0.37, (0.45-) 0.60-1.20 (-1.55) cm wide, pale green or yellow- green; fertile male flowers 0.8-1.3 mm long, 0.6-1.3 mm wide, irregularly polygonal, columnar; apical sterile male flowers 0.95-1.25 mm long, 0.6-2.7 mm wide, ± mushroom-shaped; intermediate sterile male flowers 1.2-1.7 mm long, 1.1-1.8 mm wide, anvil- or goblet-shaped, with oily appearance; female flowers 1.3-1.9 mm long, 0.8-1.3 mm wide, the stylar canals probably mostly 4. INFRUCTESCENCES: Nearly ripe fruits very pale ochroleucous (essentially white) (Grayum 9988). Seeds (0.50-) 0.65-0.75 (-0.80) mm long, 0.2-0.3 mm wide, white, semicochleate to cochcleate, finely striate with the striae vaguely cancellate, drying light brown. Figs. 54-55.


Characteristically a species of Tropical Wet Forest and Premontane Wet Forest life zones, but in Panama and South America also in Tropical Moist Forest and Premontane Rain Forest.


Extreme northeastern Costa Rica (and probably southeastern Nicaragua) to Pichincha Province, Ecuador.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Central America Costa Rica
  • Panamá
  • Western South America Colombia
  • Ecuador


  • 1 Hammel, B.E. & al. (2003). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 2: 1-694. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 3 Stevens, W.D., Ulloa U., C., Pool, A. & Montiel, O.M. (2001). Flora de Nicaragua. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i-xlii, 1-2666.
  • 4 Grayum, M.Howard Revision of Philodendron subgenus Pteromischum (Araceae) for Pacific and Caribbean Tropical America. Systematic Botany Monographs. 47, (1996).

 Information From

CATE Araceae
Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 14 Dec 2011 . 17 Dec 2011.
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eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
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World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
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