Anthurium (Schott, 1829), is a large genus of about 600- 800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family (Araceae). It is the largest and probably the most complex genus of this family. Many species are undoubtedly not described yet and new ones are being found every year.
They grow in the most diverse habitats, mostly in wet tropical mountain forest of Central America and South America, but some in semi-arid environments. Most species occur in Panama, Colombia, Brazil, the Guiana Shield and Ecuador. According to the work of noted aroid botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this genus is not found in Asia. It is solely a neotropical genus found in Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. http://www.aroid.org/genera/anthurium/abstrap1.htm Some species have been introduced into Asian rain forests, but are not endemic.
Anthurium grows in many forms, mostly evergreen, bushy or climbing epiphytes with roots that often hang from the canopy all the way to the floor of the rain forest. There are also many terrestrial forms as well as hemiepiphytic forms. A hemiepiphyte is a plant capable of beginning life as a seed and sending roots to the soil, or beginning as a terrestrial plant that climbs a tree and then sends roots back to the soil. They occur also as lithophytes. Some are only found in association with arboreal ant colonies or growing on rocks in midstream (such as A. amnicola).
The stems are short to elongate with a length between 15 and 30 cm. The simple leaves come in many shapes. Most leaves are to be found at the end of the stem. They can be spatulate, rounded, or obtuse at the apex. They may be erect or spreading in a rosette, with a length up to 40 cm. The upper surface is matted or semiglossy. The leaves are petiolate. In drier environments, the leaves can take a bird's-nest-shape rosette that enables the plant to collect falling debris, thus water and natural fertilizer. Terrestrials or epiphytes often have cordate leaves. Some grow as vines with rosettes of lanceolate leaves. Some species have many-lobed leaves.
The flowers are small (about 3 mm) and develop crowded in a spike on a fleshy axis and called a spadix, a characteristic of the arums. The flowers on the spadix are often divided sexually with a sterile band separating male from female flowers. This spadix can take on many forms (club-shaped, tapered, spiraled, and globe-shaped) and colors (white, green, purple, red, pink, or a combination).
The spadix is part of an inflorescence. The outer portion of the inflorescence is known as the spathe. Some people like to call the spathe a "flower", however it is simply a modified leaf. The spathe may be a single color (yellow, green, or white) or possibly multicolored including burgundy and red. That sometimes colorful, solitary spathe: a showy modified bract that can be somewhat leathery in texture. There are no flowers on the spathe as is sometimes thought. The flowers are found solely on the spadix. The spathe can vary in color from pale green to white, rose, orange or shiny red (such as A. andrenaum). The color changes between the bud stage and the anthesis, (the time the flower expands). Thus the color might change from pale green to reddish purple to reddish brown.
The flowers are hermaphrodite, containing male and female flowers. The fruits are usually berries with one to multiple seeds on an infructescence that may be pendant or erect depending on species.
The flowers of Anthurium give off a variety of fragrances, each attracting a variety of specific pollinators.
Several species are popular in the florist trade as pot plants or cut flowers and for interior decoration. They include forms such as A. crystallinum f peltifolium with its large, velvety, darkgreen leaves and silvery white venation. Most hybrids are based on A. andreanum or A. scherzerianum because of their colorful spathes.
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