Chlorospatha Engl.
  • E.von Regel, Gartenflora: 97 (1878) 

Notes: Distribution: C. & W. South America

General Description

Terrestrial, evergreen herbs, 0.3-2 m tall; stem erect or decumbent; sap milky or transparent, rarely pink; bulbils absent or produced randomly along its length, solitary, rarely in clusters of 2--6; internodes usually as long as or slightly longer than wide (1-2 cm long), usually glabrous; cataphylls marcescent and persistent or quickly to ultimately deciduous. LEAVES long-petiolate; petioles lacking a geniculum, as long as or longer than blades, usually glabrous, sheathed 1/4-3/4 or sometimes nearly throughout; free portion terete to D- or U-shaped; blades oblong, ovate or ovate-elliptic, rounded or acute at the base and occasionally inequilateral, or simple and cordate, sagittate, subsagittate, hastate or subhastate or variously divided and trifid or pedatifid, auriculate or not, or compound and trisect or pedatisect; venation colocasioid, occasionally reticulate; midrib usually glabrous, raised on lower surface; primary lateral veins pinnate; basal veins coalesced into posterior rib; minor veins glabrous or sometimes pubescent on lower surface. INFLORESCENCES terminal (appearing axillary), usually emitting sweet fragrance at anthesis, 2-8(-10) per sympodium; peduncle usually longer than spathe, much shorter than to slightly longer than petiole; spathe surrounding spadix, weakly or not at all constricted between tube and blade, opening narrowly or broadly 2/3 to almost its entire length at anthesis or only ± broadly on blade portion, narrowly to broadly funnel-shaped or tubular; spathe tube hiding most or all of sterile staminate portions of spadix, persisting in fruit; spathe blade ± erect or weakly to prominently cucullate, ultimately deciduous after anther dehiscence; spadix monoecious, contained within spathe, sessile or stipitate, entirely or in part adnate to spathe at base, usually 1/2 or more of length of pistillate portion, divided into pistillate portion at base and fertile male portion at apex, separated by sterile male portion; pistillate portion densely to laxly flowered, 1--6 flowers across axis; stamens fused into synandria; thecae dehiscing by terminal pores or longitudinal slits; synandria 2--6-androus (usually 3-4); pollen in tetrads, female flowers unipistillate, (1-)2-4-locular; ovules 3-14 in plurilocular ovaries, 8-20 in unilocular ovaries, 1-2 (-3)-seriate or disorganized, rarely 3-4-seriate, extremely short to conspicuously longer than ovary; stigma brush-like. INFRUCTESCENCES with berries exposed by re-opening spathe, depressed-globose, seeds 3-25 per berry, chromosomes: 2n = 26. Taxa 71 (70 species, 1 variety).

Latex milky. HABIT : small to medium, evergreen herbs, stem epigeal to ± subterranean, acaulescent to elongate, decumbent to erect. LEAVES : 1 to several. PETIOLE : sheath long. BLADE : cordate, sagittate, hastate, trifid, trisect, pedatifid or pedatisect; basal ribs well-developed, primary lateral veins pinnate, forming submarginal collective vein, 1 or more distinct marginal veins also present, secondary and tertiary laterals arising from the primaries at a wide angle, forming interprimary collective vein, higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : 3-8 in each floral sympodium. PEDUNCLE : very slender, much shorter than petiole and supported by sheath. SPATHE : constricted, tube with convolute margins, narrow, elongate, ± cylindric to narrowly ellipsoid, persistent, blade boat-shaped to more widely expanded, sometimes fornicate, rather narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, marcescent after anthesis and deciduous. SPADIX : female zone free or adnate to spathe, laxly or densely flowered, separated from male zone by longer or shorter laxly or densely flowered sterile zone, male zone densely flowered, fertile to apex. FLOWERS : unisexual, perigone absent. MALE FLOWER : 3-5-androus, stamens connate into truncate synandrium, deeply or shallowly-lobed, fused connectives thickened, thecae extending almost to base of synandrium, oblong, dehiscing by short longitudinal slit. POLLEN : extruded in strands, shed in tetrads, inaperturate, spherical or subspheroidal, medium-sized (mean 26 µm., range 24-29 µm., tetrad mean 45 µm., range 41-48 µm.), exine psilate or very obscurely punctate to obscurely verruculate to foveolate-reticulate. STERILE FLOWERS : consisting either of free staminodes or partially or completely connate into irregular, fungiform or 3-4 lobed synandrodes, rarely prismatic. FEMALE FLOWER : gynoecium semi-ovoid to subhemispheric, ovary (1-)2-4 (-5)-locular, ovules several per locule, anatropous to hemianatropous, funicle rather long, placentae pseudoaxile or axile, rarely basal (C. longipoda), style short to relatively long, usually expanded into thin, spreading, evanescent mantle contiguous with neighbouring ones, usually containing numerous red chromoplasts, more rarely style with only a short, rim-like lateral outgrowth (C. longipoda, C. mirabilis), stigma subhemispheric or slightly lobed. BERRY : depressed-globose, somewhat 3-5-furrowed, stigma remnant persistent, many-seeded, white to yellowish. SEED : minute, ovoid to ellipsoid, white, testa longitudinally costate, embryo elongate, axile, endosperm copious.

Diagnostic Description

Small to medium terrestrial herbs with milky latex; Leaf blades cordate, sagittate to trisect or pedatisect, with submarginal collective vein, finer venation reticulate; peduncle very slender, supported by petiole sheath; flowers unisexual, perigone absent; male flower a truncate synandrium, pollen shed in tetrads. Differs from Xanthosoma in having a narrow, elongate spathe tube, stylar region thin, spreading, and often mantle-like, sterile flowers between male and female flowers usually irregular or fungiform (not prismatic).


Tropical humid forest; terrestrial on forest floor, well shaded creek beds or in boggy areas.


Costa Rica and Panama in Central Ameriea; Colombia and Ecuador in South America at 0-3,000 m elevation.

C. & W. South America.

Distribution Map

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


  • 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 Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. Continental Publishing, Deurne.
  • 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
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  • B All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • D All Rights Reserved
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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