Pothos L.
  • Sp. Pl.: 968 (1753) 

Notes: Distribution: W. Indian Ocean, Trop. & Subtrop Asia to SW. Pacific

General Description

HABIT : climbing herbs, stems rather woody, lower branches rooting, upper ones free and hanging, nodes rarely bearing short, clustered spines (P. armatus), buds of lateral shoots sometimes perforating the leaf sheath or ± infra-axillary. LEAVES : distichous, juvenile plants of some species of shingle form (petiole very short, blades broad, appressed, partially overlapping). PETIOLE : geniculate (articulate) apically, either broad, completely flattened and usually auriculate apically, or morphology normal with a long sheath, sometimes sheath reduced to a pair of hyaline ridges (series Goniurus). BLADE linear-lanceolate to ovate or elliptic, sometimes oblique; primary lateral veins either mostly arising near base of blade, long arcuate, and running into marginal vein near apex, or primary lateral veins pinnate, weakly differentiated, forming submarginal collective vein, 1-2 marginal veins also present, higher order venation reticulate in all types. INFLORESCENCE : axillary or infra-axillary, solitary or forming short branching systems of several inflorescences, bearing 4-6 (sometimes more, e.g. P. insignis) rigid, coriaceous cataphylls at the base, often bearing the spathe near the middle of peduncular axis. PEDUNCLE : short to long, sometimes reflexed. SPATHE : ovate to linear, rarely very long (P. mirabilis). SPADIX : globose, ovoid, cylindric, ellipsoid or obovoid, sessile to long-stipitate, densely or laxly flowered. FLOWERS : bisexual, perigoniate; tepals 4-6, usually fornicate, free or partially to completely connate (e.g. P. rumphii). STAMENS : 4-6, filaments oblong, flattened, connective slender, thecae ellipsoid, dehiscing by slit. POLLEN : monosulcate, ellipsoid-oblong, small (mean 21 µm., range 16-25 µm.), exine foveolate to reticulate or subrugulate, muri psilate or minutely tuberculate. GYNOECIUM : ovary ovoid-oblong or depressed, (2?-)3-locular; ovules 1 per locule, anatropous, funicle short, placenta axile at base of septum, stylar region sometimes as broad as ovary, stigma discoid-hemispheric to umbonate. BERRY : ellipsoid to ovoid, 1-3-seeded, red. SEED : ellipsoid, testa smooth, embryo large, endosperm absent.

Diagnostic Description

Evergreen,climbing hemiepiphytes with tough woody stems; leaves distichous; petiole geniculate apically, broad, flattened, blade-like and lacking sheath, or normal with sheath (sometimes very reduced); leaf blade linear-lanceolate to elliptic, fine venation reticulate; spadix globose to cylindric, sessile to long-stipitate; flowers bisexual, periogoniate, densely or laxly arranged. Differs from Pedicellarum in having sessile flowers with free tepals (very rarely united basally). Differs from Pothoidium in having 3-locular ovaries and inflorescences always axillary.


Tropical humid forest; usually climbing hemiepiphytes often in regrowth forest, rarely on rocks.


W. Indian Ocean, Trop. & Subtrop Asia to SW. Pacific.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa Western Indian Ocean Comoros
  • Madagascar
  • Réunion (Doubtful)
  • Seychelles
  • Asia-Temperate China China South-Central
  • China Southeast
  • Hainan
  • Tibet
  • Eastern Asia Nansei-shoto
  • Taiwan
  • Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent Assam
  • Bangladesh
  • East Himalaya
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • West Himalaya (Doubtful)
  • Indo-China Andaman Is.
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Nicobar Is.
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malesia Borneo
  • Jawa
  • Lesser Sunda Is.
  • Malaya
  • Maluku
  • Philippines
  • Sulawesi
  • Sumatera
  • Papuasia Bismarck Archipelago
  • New Guinea
  • Solomon Is.
  • Australasia Australia New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • Pacific Southwestern Pacific Vanuatu

Included Species


  • 1 Boyce, P.C. (2009). A review of Pothos L. (Araceae: Pothoideae: Pothoeae) for Thailand. Thai Forest Bulletin (Botany) 37: 15-26.
  • 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 Gardens, K.""Royal Bot World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. (2008).
  • 4 Mayo, S.J., Bogner, J. & Boyce, P.C. The Genera of Araceae. (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: 1997).

 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.
  • A All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • B Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
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