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  Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'
From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve at exoticrainforest.com> on 2007.02.21 at 13:40:41(15311)
Interestingly, I have received far more response to my request
for your input on the use of the term 'Santa Leopoldina' in personal email than
an exchange of ideas on this board. I have gathered as much as possible
and now posted it on a permanent page on the website. I also find it of
interest that more than one person appears to feel I should just drop the
subject and let the name 'Santa Leopoldina' be used for any plant in the jungle
with a long blade. Certainly, I make no pretense to be the final
authority. Anyone can call any plant by any name they choose.
Several of us are just curious why so many growers and sellers use
that name for so many different plants? And the list is still
growing. I now have 12 plants on the page and there are more to be found
on the internet.

One writer pointed out since Graf's use of the term predates
either Bette Waterbury or other more recent articles his plant should take
precedence. Does that mean Philodendron spiritus-sancti should
not be the rightful owner? I no longer have his books so I cannot
personally comment.

Again, I invite your comments and will post anyone's comment
who grants permission. I ask you post them here so we all can read
your opinions. Of course, if you'd rather send me a personal note, feel

Steve Lucas

From: Jonathan Ertelt <jonathan.ertelt at vanderbilt.edu> on 2007.02.21 at 17:37:57(15313)
Title: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa


Basically what you have run into is the curse of the common name.
It is a challenge compounded here for several reasons, the first being
financial, since at least some are going to equate the common name
'Santa Leopoldina' with the extremely rare and therefore extremely
valuable Philo. spiritus-sancti. I find it very interesting that some
are suggesting that the common name be used in a much more widespread
way, as it currently seems to be whether purposefully or not. Of
course, the more widespread the usage, the less use the common name
has - but that may well be the point that these folks are raising,
whether intentionally or not.

The whole idea of which plant takes precedence for holding this
common name is almost implying some sort of pseudo-scientific status
for the common name, of which there is none. It doesn't really matter
which plant Graf assigned that common name to - the fact that it has
become more widespread is just the way it is. Some will argue a
"rightful owner" for the common name, but since it is a
common name the argument doesn't have much substance.

On a brighter note, this has been very useful for me to share
with some of my students as a great example of the challenges of
common names. I used to just use the local example of going to a
nursery and asking about a native plant called "spice bush,"
and how you had a one in three or one in four chance of getting
the specific plant that you had in mind. But your web site pointing up
all the Philodendrons, including both species and likely hybrids as
well, that are potentially called 'Santa Leopoldina' has my spice bush
example well trumped.

Good Growing.


From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve at exoticrainforest.com> on 2007.02.21 at 21:47:18(15317)
Title: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'

Thanks Jonathan! I am in agreement with everything you
write. I do have one minor exception. Today I posted a note from
Mauro Peixoto in Brazil. Mauro is well known in the aroid community and
operates www.BrazilPlants.com.
Mauro emphasized (I believe) the importance of the name Philodendron 'Santa
Leopoldina' to people in Brazil who are aware of the very rare plant they
assigned the name. Since they apparently granted the plant that name, and
it is frequently used in published articles regarding Philodendron
spiritus-sancti, it would appear that plant has a proprietary claim.
I readily admit, common names are worthless. I comment on their usage on
many of my website pages. It just seems of little use for so many long
bladed plants that vaguely resemble the rare species to parade using the name,
especially when offered for sale. I also readily admit little can be done
about the continued use. But at least the ones of us who are most likely
to fall prey to the "name" can be made aware. Beyond that, anyone can buy
any plant they wish and call it whatever they wish. And something tells me
they will.

Thanks again!

Steve Lucas

From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve at exoticrainforest.com> on 2007.02.22 at 16:24:36(15322)
Title: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'


I added one of your paragraphs to the end of the discussion on
my website. You seem to have made more sense out of this than most.

Steve Lucas

From: ted.held at us.henkel.com on 2007.02.22 at 19:33:15(15324)

OK. So how reliable are the reports
of the remaining P. spiritu-sancti in the wild? What distinguishing marks
should we be looking for? I have been looking at the pictures in the postings
and they vary quite a bit. How do I know a real one when I see it? On what
basis do the searchers in Brazil make their determinations? Maybe the only
plants left are examples of one or another of the sham plants.

From: "Michael Pascall" <mickpascall at hotmail.com> on 2007.02.23 at 09:05:20(15329)
Ted , I think Eduardo mentioned a ratio of length to width for the leaf ,
the 'true' species is something like 8 times longer than it is wide , most
of the imposters are nowhere near that ratio.

Michael Pascall,

From: HUDSONSBIRDS at webtv.net on 2007.02.23 at 18:34:24(15331)
Can anypne deny that in nature there may be some "natural hybrids"?
Pollen goes wherever it may--


From: <plantguy at zoominternet.net> on 2007.02.23 at 21:48:46(15332)
Well, I have been following this thread with some
interest although I have never grown a Philo. in my life. In spite of my
monumental ignorance of the genus I finally have gotten up the nerve to ask a
completely silly question. I have only heard people talking about the leaf
of these plants, the rate at which they grow, color of top and bottom of
leaf, etc, but surely a proper ID can not be made for this plant, or this
genus I would have thought, based on leaf form and color can it?? The
pictures being posted are incredibly beautiful and the difference between
juvenile and adult leaf forms is intrigueing, but truly points out the
difficulty of relying on these features for an ID. I have not read of
anyone describing the "naughty bits" as Wilbert refers to them for his favorite
genus. Does the Philo. world not rely upon the reproductive bits in the
influorescence for a proper ID?? If so, then it would seem that
proper IDs would be possible for anyone that has flowered their plant. Are
these almost impossible to flower thus adding to the difficulty?? Also, I
would assume that someone is doing the proper DNA work-up on these plants so
that a completely unequivocal ID can be had by anyone that wants to submit and
pay for genotyping, but perhaps not??

I apologize for the questions of an outsider in
this rather exciting conversation, but I hope that perhaps I can learn a little
bit along the way and perhaps someday I will even have a Philo. of my own....any
old Philo. Please be gentle in your responses :o)


From: Bluesea <chammer at cfl.rr.com> on 2007.02.24 at 17:50:35(15340)
Based on the photos I've seen of P.
spiritus-sancti ('Santa Leopoldina') and all the other philodendrons
erroneously called 'Santa Leopoldina', there can be no mistaking the
real thing based on the strikingly narrow leaf blade length to width
ratio. To my mind the only philodendron that can legitimately be
called 'Santa Leopoldina' is the one the Brazilian locals have endeared
with this name for perhaps centuries. And that plant is P.

From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve at exoticrainforest.com> on 2007.02.25 at 19:48:23(15351)
natural hybrids. Some are likely the basis for new and/or species

Steve Lucas

From: "Don Bittel" <donbit121 at hotmail.com> on 2007.02.26 at 03:20:32(15357)
dear aroid-l,

I have been following the many threads of the discussion about Philo.
Santa Leopoldina, and now hope to clear up some confusion. What started the
confusion for me years ago was seeing the pictures in Graf's Exotica and
Tropica labeled as Santa Leopoldina. These plants are clearly what we are
now calling Philo. superbum, and not spiritus-sancti. When this plant was
sold as S. L. in the US and Australia, few people knew of the real plant.

The second major confusion about Santa Leopoldina came from Bette
Waterbury's article. The picture on page 8 shows a long leafed form, and the
caption says that this is type 3, which is more hastate and silvery green.
THIS IS A TYPO. It was never corrected in a future Aroideana. In Bette's
letters, she makes note of the typo, but does not say what the correct type
is. It is clearly type 1 or type 2, which are spiritus-sancti. If the photo
was in color, we could tell if it was the red form or the green form. We may
never know since the original photos are lost.

Bette's type 3 and type 4 are most likely Philo. atobapoense. They can
be silvery green, red backed, or completely green. I have seen the same
plant show all these forms at different stages of development.

Telling these plants apart is easy when you are dealing with large
leaves. Spiritus-sancti has longer narrower leaves that average 6 to 8 times
longer than wide. Superbum and Atobapoense have leaves that average 3 to 4
times longer than wide. But on smaller plants these ratios are not as
obvious. So we look at the petioles, which are completely different.

Spiritus-sancti, the real Santa Leopoldina, has petioles that are
U-shaped to rounded in cross section. they are not wider than they are tall.
the big feature is that they are sulcate or canaliculate on the top surface,
meaning they have a groove or channel. this groove is fairly deep and
obvious, V-shaped, and has ridges on the top edges. these ridges are at
about 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, and not at the widest points like in a
D-shaped petiole. The stem also has random red dots.

Philo. atobapoense, or type 3 and 4, has petioles that are rounded to
oval shaped in cross section. they are usually wider than tall, and have no
canal or ridges. the top surface is slightly sunken on larger leaves, but is
also much wider. also has red dots olong the stem.

Philo. superbum, the false leopoldina, has petioles that are truly
unique. They are D-shaped in cross-section, with a fairly flat top, and
rounded top edges. the most obvious feature is the longitudinal lines and
grooves all along the stem. they are white green on top, cbanging to red on
the bottom, with no red dots like the others. and certainly no channels or

So the people who have posted photos of these plants should be able to
put a name on these just by the shape of the petioles.

The propagation of spiritus-sancti by cuttings is a slow process since
it is such a slow grower. But it may be our only hope. Tissue culture has
failed twice that I know of. And seed propagation may be very unlikely also.
Six flowers on 2 different plants this past summer failed to perform like
normal philos. The females didn't act receptive or heat up, and no pollen
was shed during the male phase to pollinate the next opening flower. It's no
wonder that they are a rare plant.

I hope this has been some help.

Don Bittel

From: "Julius Boos" <ju-bo at msn.com> on 2007.02.26 at 03:40:58(15358)
Reply-To: Discussion of aroids
To: Discussion of aroids
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 12:50:35 -0500

Based on the photos I've seen of P. spiritus-sancti ('Santa Leopoldina')
and all the other philodendrons erroneously called 'Santa Leopoldina',
there can be no mistaking the real thing based on the strikingly narrow
leaf blade length to width ratio. To my mind the only philodendron that
can legitimately be called 'Santa Leopoldina' is the one the Brazilian
locals have endeared with this name for perhaps centuries. And that plant
is P. spiritus-sancti.

From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve at exoticrainforest.com> on 2007.02.26 at 08:01:12(15360)
THANK YOU DON!! You have just answered many of the
questions to which I have been searching! I had begun to suspect P.
atababapoense but not being a scientist was not sure exactly how to
proceed. And I was very curious about Bette's four variations.
You've given me, and all of us, better directions. I'd just love to hear
more from Eduardo on the status of P. 'Superbum'.

Thanks again!

Steve Lucas

From: "Eduardo Goncalves" <edggon at hotmail.com> on 2007.02.27 at 13:31:59(15373)
Dear Ted,

We visited Robert Kautsky, the original collector of the nomenclatural
type of P. spiritus-sancti. He gave the plant George Bunting described. We
observed the cultivated specimen he still keeps on his farm (from which dry
specimens were prepared) and we spotted similar material around. We have
been collecting in Espirito Santo state for years and we could only found
this species in Kautsky's farm. Obviously we used classic taxonomic
characters to ID it, including sections on flowers. That was not that hard
because there is no other species that could be REALLY confused with P.
spiritus-sancti, although you can confuse many species under the popular
"loose" definition of "Santa Leopoldina". Right now we are using clones of
the type specimen to make a profile based on the "DNA barcode" concept, in
order to make identifications of P. spiritus-sancti more reliable.
Unfortunately, the "real" identity of P. "Santa Leopoldina" will be hard to
find out, mainly because you can't extract DNA from an horticultural legend!

Very best wishes,


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