Pothos scandens L.
  • Sp. Pl.: 968 (1753) 

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

General Description

Slender to moderately robust, homeophyllous, root-climbing liane. Shoot system well differentiated into adherent, non-flowering and free, often greatly elongated, lateral flowering branches; eocaul not observed; seedling with leaves congested, subshingling but not different in shape to those of adult shoots. LEAVES bright to deepgreen adaxially, paler abaxially, drying dull green to brownish; petiole 2-14 × 0.5-2 cm, lamina-like, obovate-oblong to linear-oblong, base decurrent, apex truncate, rounded or auriculate; blade 2-10 × 3-14 cm, ovate to elliptic or lanceolate, base rounded to acute, apex attenuate-mucronate; primary lateral veins arising at 20-45°, intramarginal veins 2 per side. INFLORESCENCE solitary in the axils of middle and distal leaves, borne on condensed shoots bearing a minute prophyll and a few 3-10 mm long (sequentially longer) cataphylls; peduncle 3-15 × 0.5-2 mm, slender, erect to spreading, green to purple-tinged. Spathe 4-8 × 4-7 mm, ovate, concave, margins variously inrolled, base short or somewhat long-clawed, apex rounded to acute with a tiny rather stout mucro, greenish to maroon. Spadix stipitate; stipe 5-10 × c. 1 mm, erect, the distal part erect to bent through 270°, greenish to maroon; fertile portion 4-10 × 3.5–10 mm, globose or ovoid to subclavate, yellow-green to off-white. Flowers c. 1-2 mm diam.; tepals 6, free; stamens 6. INFRUCTESCENCE with 1-5 berries; fruit 10-17.5 × 10-14 mm, obclavate, midgreen ripening to deep scarlet; seeds c. 3-6 mm diam., ellipsoid to compressedglobose.

Deciduous herb to 0.5 m tall. Subterranean stem a subglobose tuber, to 6 cm across × 4 cm high, brownish. Pseudostem to 20 cm long. Leaves 1–2; cataphylls green, chequered dark pink; petiole to 25 × 1–1.5 cm, white-green or carmine; leaf blade trifoliolate; leaflets elliptic or obovate, to 35 × 18 cm, margins entire, apex acuminate ending in a short arista, base convex; central leaflet with a petiolule to 4 cm long; lateral leaflets with a petiolule to 1.5 cm long, plain green, with impressed veins above, underside with raised veins. Inflorescence more or less held at foliage level; peduncle equalling or shorter than the petiole, pale green; spathe tube cylindrical, slightly constricted near the mouth, 2.5–6 × 1–2 cm, white-green with faint darker veins near the base, white at the base; spathe mouth margins hardly recurved, green; spathe limb lanceolate, horizontal, nearly the length of the tube and scarcely wider, outside and inside yellow-green with a white spot at throat level, tip long-acuminate; spadix appendix protruding from the tube, but shorter than the spathe, bent forward, conical, ending in a naked and subulate tail, 5–6 cm long × 4–6 mm across at base, smooth, dull olive-green, sessile with carmine or green, stiff and short bristles above the fertile part; fertile zone staminate or pistillate, 1.5–2.5 cm long; staminate flowers loosely arranged, 2–3-androus, anthers white and dark purple at top, on a short stalk; thecae dehiscent by an oval pore; pistillate flowers densely arranged; ovaries ovoid, truncate at the top dark green with white striations; stigma on a short style, penicillate, white. Infructescence on an erect peduncle, cylindrical, 8 × 3 cm; fruits ca 10 × ca 7 mm, prismatic, apically flattened, red-orange when ripe, up to 3 seeds per berry. Seeds globose, 3–4 mm diam.

Diagnostic Description

Pothos scandens is unmistakable in its typical aspect, carrying rather small inflorescences on bent peduncles. However, the species is highly variable. Some populations comprise high-climbing plants bearing tiny inflorescences (Beusekom & Smitinand 2150, Geesink et al. 7250, Larsen et al. 44267 and Smitinand 2959 are representative of this element). Other populations (collections include e.g. Phusomsaeng 188, Larsen 9524, Kasin 366) produce rather large inflorescences not exhibiting the bent peduncle until very late anthesis or during early infructescence development.


On trees and rocks in primary and secondary wet to dry lowland to hill evergreen tropical to subtropical forest, occasionally on sea cliffs, on a variety of substrates including clay, limestone or granite. 0–2100 m asl.

On trees and rocks in primary and secondary wet to dry lowland to hill evergreen tropical to subtropical forest, occasionally on sea cliffs, in hedges or scrub or in coconut plantations, on a variety of substrates including clay, limestone and granite.


Madagascar (type of P. chapelieri) to India (types of P. cognatus, P. decipens, & P. exiguiflorus) and Sri Lanka (type & type of Pothos scandens var. zeylanicus), through Bangladesh and Myanmar (types of P. angustifolius & Pothos scandens var. helferianus), Thailand and Indo-China to SW China, south through Indonesia (Sumatra, types of P. leptospadix & Pothos scandens var. sumateranus; Java, types of P. horsfieldii & P. zollingerianus to Bali) through Peninsular Malaysia to Borneo (type of P. fallax), and the Philippines (types of P. hermaphroditus).

Widespread from Madagascar, through India and the Himalaya to SW China, south through Indochina. In Malesia: Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatera (in Sumatera only known from P. Simeulue), Borneo (Brunei and Sabah) and the Philippines.


This plant is used medicinally in Yunnan for treating traumatic injuries and rheumatic arthralgia. The leaves are used as tea by the Dai ethnic minority.

In China the plants are used as blood coagulant, principally for wounds; fruits and leaves made into a compress [Keenan et al. 3281 (GH)].

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa Western Indian Ocean Comoros
  • Madagascar
  • Réunion (Doubtful)
  • Seychelles
  • Asia-Temperate China China South-Central
  • Tibet
  • Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent Assam
  • Bangladesh
  • East Himalaya
  • India
  • Nepal (Doubtful)
  • Sri Lanka
  • Indo-China Andaman Is.
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Nicobar Is.
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malesia Borneo
  • Jawa
  • Lesser Sunda Is.
  • Malaya
  • Maluku
  • Philippines
  • Sulawesi
  • Sumatera
  • Papuasia New Guinea


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  • 6 Pandey, R.P. & Dilwakar, P.G. (2008). An integrated check-list flora of Andaman and Nicobar islands, India. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500.
  • 7 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.
  • 8 Ara, H. (2001). An Annotated Checklist of Aroids of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy 8(2): 19-34.
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  • 10 Boyce, P.Charles A review of Pothos L. (Araceae: Pothoideae: Pothoeae) for Thailand. 37, (2009).
  • 11 Boyce, P.Charles & Hay, A. A taxonomic revision of Araceae tribe Potheae (Pothos, Pothoidium and Pedicellarum) for Malesia, Australia and the tropical Western Pacific. Telopea. 9 (3), (2001).
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 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
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    This material was reprinted with permission from the Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, and Science Press, Beijing.

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Global Biodiversity Information Facility
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eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
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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; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
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