Rhaphidophora Hassk.
  • Flora 25(2 Beibl. 1): 11 (1842) 

Notes: Distribution: Trop. Africa to W. Pacific

General Description

Lianescent or epiphytic perennial herbs with tough fibrous stems; all parts of the plant (especially floral tissues) containing needle-like trichosclereids. Leaves numerous; petiole pulvinate apically, with sheath extending over most of petiole length; blade entire, oblong-ovate or lanceolate, often oblique (pinnatifid or perforated in many extra-African species); primary and secondary lateral veins parallel. Inflorescences 1–few, appearing with the leaves. Spathe boat-shaped, erect, soon withering and deciduous after flowering. Spadix cylindric, uniform in appearance. Flowers bisexual, lacking perigon, densely congested. Stamens 4; anthers dehiscing by oblique apical slits; connective very slender; filaments oblong, flattened. Pistil prismatic, truncate at apex; ovary unilocular, with 1–2(–3) intrusive parietal placentas and sometimes also base of locule bearing ovules; stigma sessile, linear to elliptic, ± prominent. Berries many-seeded. Seeds elongate, fusiform or flattened, straight or slightly curved; endosperm copious; embryo axile, straight or slightly curved.

HABIT : evergreen, usually climbing herbs, more rarely repent, often extremely robust, climbing branches often thick, producing anchor and feeder roots, flagelliform shoots also produced, stem often square in cross section. LEAVES : many, distichous, juvenile shingle plants occur in some species. PETIOLE : geniculate apically, sheath usually relatively long. BLADE : lanceolate or oblong, ± oblique, entire, perforate or pinnatifid to pinnatisect, often very large, lobes often subfalcately narrowed; primary lateral veins pinnate, running into marginal vein, often not differentiated from secondaries, secondary laterals ± parallel-pinnate, higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : usually solitary, rarely more. PEDUNCLE : relatively short. SPATHE : boat-shaped, deciduous. SPADIX : subcylindric, conic, clavate, often extremely thick, sessile to stipitate, shorter than spathe. FLOWERS : bisexual, perigone absent. STAMENS : 4, filaments oblong-linear, anthers much shorter than filaments, connective slender, thecae ellipsoid, dehiscing by longitudinal slit. POLLEN : dicolpate, extended monosulcate to perhaps fully zonate, ellipsoid or hamburger-shaped, medium-sized (mean 33 µm., range 24-55 µm.), exine foveolate, subreticulate, rugulate, fossulate, scabrate, retiscabrate, verrucate, or psilate. GYNOECIUM : obconic-prismatic to oblong, truncate, ovary 1- to partially 2-locular, ovules few to many, anatropous, funicle long, placentae parietal to basal, sometimes ± subaxile, partial septa variably intrusive, stylar region well developed, usually broader than ovary, usually truncate apically, rarely elongate-conic, stigma broadly elliptic or oblong and then transverse or longitudinal, or punctate-prominent. BERRY : usually many-seeded, stylar region deciduous at maturity, red or yellow. SEED : oblong, testa thin, smooth, embryo axile, straight, endosperm copious.

Diagnostic Description

Evergreen, often very robust, climbing hemiepiphytes, very rarely rheophytic, with abundant trichosclereids; petiole geniculate apically, sheath usually long; leaf blade entire, pinnatifid to pinnatisect, sometimes perforate, fine venation from parallel-pinnate to reticulate; spathe deciduous after flowering; flowers bisexual, perigone absent. Differs from Epipremnum in usually numerous ovules, on 2 (rarely 3) parietal placentas, seeds oblong, straight. Differs from Scindapsus in often having pinnatisect or perforate leaves, and more numerous ovules. Differs from Amydrium in having abundant trichosclereids in all tissues.


Subtropical and tropical humid or rain forest or deciduous forest; climbing hemiepiphytes, rarely rheophytic (R. beccarii).


Trop. Africa to W. Pacific.


in Flora 25(2), Beibl. 1: 11 (1842); Engl. & Krause in E.P. 37 (IV. 23B): 17 (1908); Madison in Contr. Gray Herb. 207: 31 (1977)

in Flora 25, 2, Beibl. 11 (1842); F.T.A. 8: 199, as Raphidophora.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa East Tropical Africa Uganda
  • West Tropical Africa Ghana
  • Ivory Coast
  • Liberia
  • Sierra Leone
  • West-Central Tropical Africa Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Congo
  • Gabon
  • Gulf of Guinea Is.
  • Zaire
  • Asia-Temperate China China South-Central
  • China Southeast
  • Hainan
  • Tibet
  • Eastern Asia Nansei-shoto
  • Taiwan
  • Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent Assam
  • Bangladesh
  • East Himalaya
  • India
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • West Himalaya
  • 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 Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • Pacific Northwestern Pacific Caroline Is.
  • Marianas
  • Southwestern Pacific Fiji
  • Samoa
  • Santa Cruz Is.
  • Vanuatu

Included Species


  • 1 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.
  • 2 S.J. Mayo (1985) Araceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa
  • 3 F.n. Hepper (1968) Araceae. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3(1)
  • 4 Gardens, K.""Royal Bot World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. (2008).
  • 5 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
Flora of Tropical East Africa (FTEA)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2004. eFloras: Iridaceae. [online] Available at: http://kew.org/efloras/ [Accessed 2013-08-02]
  • B All Rights Reserved
  • C http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
Flora of West Tropical Aftrica (FWTA)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2004. eFloras: Iridaceae. [online] Available at: http://kew.org/efloras/ [Accessed 2013-08-02]
  • D All Rights Reserved
  • E http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • F All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • G 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
  • H See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.