Philodendron — Philodendron Schott 1832, is a large genus of flowering plants from the arum family (Araceae), consisting of close to 1000 or more species according to TROPICOS (a service of the Missouri Botanical Garden). Taxonomically it is still poorly known with many undescribed species. Many are grown as ornamental and indoor plants. The name derives from the Greek philo or “love” and dendron or “tree”.
Philodendron species can be found in diverse habitats in tropical America and the West Indies. Most occur in humid tropical forests, but also in swamps, on river banks, roadsides and rock outcrops. They are shrubs and small trees, most of which are capable of clambering over other plants, or climbing the trunks of other trees with the aid of aerial roots.
Leaves are usually large and imposing, often lobed or deeply cut, and may be more or less pinnate. They are borne alternately on the stem. The flower spathe may be borne terminally on a stem, or in a leaf axil. They are often fragrant.
All parts of the plant are poisonous, due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals.
The flowers of the Brazilian species Philodendron selloum (synonym : Philodendron bipinnatifidum) and the French Guianan species Philodendron solimoesense will thermoregulate during the period prior to opening. Between the hours of 8 and 9 in the evening, the spathes may get as hot as 40 degrees Celsius. This is presumed to be a method of attracting pollinators or otherwise assisting in pollination.
The fruit develops later in the season and is edible, having a taste akin to bananas.