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From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2000.10.03 at 08:40:13(5508)
Dear Aroiders,

I am just back from a visit to the Burle-Marx collection at Rio de
Janeiro, and I think I should share my impressions with all of you. For
those that don't know him, Roberto Burle-Marx was a Brazilian architect and
painter, but he is mainly know for the gardens and landscapes he created,
usually using lots of aroids. His collection of plants (approximately 400
spp. of Aroids!!!!) is really impressive, mainly if you consider that most
climbing Philodendron (and other climbing genera) are towering up to 4 m
high and flowering like crazy. If you have never seen Dieffenbachias with
stems measuring 20cm diam. (and up to 2 m high), you probably will be
shooked up there! I could count 29 different aroid genera growing there,
including mature plants of Heteropsis! The main group represented in his
collection is Philodendron, including very rare plants like P. alternans and
P. distantilobum. Anthurium is also well represented, as well as
Dieffenbachia. Alocasias are also diverse, including 3m high plants of A.
portei and the biggest A. macrorrhizos I could see in my whole life!
Aglaonemas are everywhere, sometimes covering considerable portions of the
beds. It is also possible to see big plants of Philodendron spiritus-sancti
(formerly known as P. "Santa-Leopoldina") as well as many undescribed
species and weird hybrids. Most plants are full-sized, and in fact for most
species I know, his plants are the biggest I have seen! His collection seems
like heaven to the eyes, but looks like hell to the brain! He have amassed
plants for more than 30 years, but his interests for plants were merely
aesthetic. He collected in Panam?, Colombia, Ecuador and mainly in Brazil,
but never kept any kind of information concerning origin for any material.
After his death (in 1994, if I am not confusing), it became impossible to
bring back the information about the origin of his plants, so the scientific
importance of his collection can be considered limited. Things get worse
when we realized that many plants were also donated, bought, traded and even
"created" like hybrids. To ID those things is a real challenge for brave
aroiders. It is like a voyage to the chaotic world of morphological
variation... If you think you know aroids, you should visit there to
remember that our knowledge about these plants is rather fragmentary and

From: EGoldfluss at aol.com on 2000.10.03 at 13:04:53(5510)
Dear Eduardo:

Roberto was a friend of mine and I was fortunate to have spent some time at
his home in 1986. He was very concerned that after his death the collection
would not be respected and maintained.

Apparently it has been. I'm very glad to hear that.

From: Betsytrips at aol.com on 2000.10.03 at 13:06:14(5512)
Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Isn't it fun to begin to change our
perspective and to see things in a different manner than we had before, like
scientific to artistic?

From: Al Wootten awootten at NRAO.EDU> on 2000.10.03 at 13:06:27(5513)

Thanks for your fascinating description of the Burle-Marx collection at Rio de
Janeiro. Is this collection open to the public? I'm contemplating attending
an astronomical meeting in Rio in March and was wondering what sort of
botanical gems I might find there when your answer popped up.

Clear skies,

From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2000.10.07 at 21:27:39(5531)
Dear Al,

Yes, the collection is partially open to the public, but I think it must
be scheduled first. I don't know exactly because I was in a special
condition, since I am helping in the preparation of a book concerning
something about Tropical Plants of Burle-Marx (it will be published by
Instituto Plantarum in a year or two), with nice photos of most plants. I
will try to discover how to schedule visitations there and will put in the

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