chinensis (Raf.) Merr.
Pothos chinensis (Raf.) Merr., J. Arn. Arb.
24 (1948) 210; Benth., Fl. Hongkong. (1841) 345 (as P. scandens);
F.C. How, Fl. Kwangchow (Canton) [= Guangzhou] (1956) 693
694; Fl. Hainan., 4 (1977) 130; C.Y. Wu & H. Li, in C.Y. Wu
& H. Li, Fl. Yunnan., 2 (1979) 742 744, pl.208, 8; H.
Li in C.Y. Wu & H. Li, Fl. Reip. Pop. Sinicae 13(2) (1979) 19
20, pl.3, 10; M.L. Sai in Y.K. Li et al., Fl. Guizhou., 6
(1987) 546 548, pl.161, 1 Tapanava chinensis Raf.,
Fl. Tellur. 4 (1837) 14 (1837). Type: Bot. Reg. 16 (1830)
pl.1337. Pothos seemanni Schott, Bonplandia 5 (1857) 45.
Neotype designated here: China, Hong Kong, Champion s.n.
(K!). In describing P. seemanni Schott did not explicitly
cite any specimens although later (Schott 1860) cited material from
Seemanns Herbarium without specifying collector or number.
Typification of Schott names for which no specimens are extant on
illustrations in the Icones Aroideae is often practiced but I prefer
to follow Grayum (1996: 4 5) in utilizing Icones Aroideae
illustrations as a means to identify herbarium specimens seen by
Schott. Among the Icones Aroideae there is a plate of P. seemanni
[Icones Aroideae 2869 (W!); Schott 1983] on which the short robust
flowering branch, fruiting spadix and inflorescence cataphyll details
depicted are a perfect match for the Kew Champion specimen cited
above. The long slender flowering branch depicted in the same Icones
is yet to be traced to a specimen. Pothos cathcartii Schott, Aroid.
(1858) 22 (as cathcarti), syn. nov. Type: India,
Sikkim, April 1850, Cathcart s.n. sub. Hooker s.n. (fl.) (K! holo)
Pothos warburgii Engl., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 25 (1898) 2, syn. nov.
Type: Taiwan, Kuanania, Warburg 10663 (B holo, BM
iso; see note below) Pothos balansae Engl., Bot. Jahrb. Syst.
25 (1898) 3, syn. nov. Type: Vietnam, Mt. Bavi, Lankok valley,
Balansa 2060 (P! holo, K! iso) Pothos yunnanensis Engl. in Engl.,
Pflanzenr. 21(IV.23B) (1905) 28 Type: China, Yunnan, Szemao,
Henry 11779 (B holo, E!, GH!, K! iso) Pothos chinensis (Raf.)
Merr. var. lotienensis C.Y. Wu & H. Li, Acta Phytotax. Sin.,
15(2) (1977) 101, syn. nov. Type: China, Guizhou, Luodiang,
Qian-nan Team 731 (KUN! holo) [Pothos yunnanesis Engl. var.
bonii Buchet, nom. nud. in sched. P]
Small to very large, slender to robust homeophyllous root-climbing
liane to 10 m. Eocaul not observed; stem of juvenile shoot to 4
mm diam., weakly angled or terete in cross section, leaves congested;
stem of mature sterile shoot to 12 mm diam., weakly four-angled,
slightly compressed or terete in cross section, mid-green, becoming
greyish brown with age, at first somewhat densely clothed with leaves,
early growth often with all leaves directed forwards and the whole
appearing imbricated, later growth with leaves spreading, stems
eventually becoming naked, naked portions with prominent, 70 mm
distant nodes; fertile shoot often branching to three or more orders,
stem to 5 mm diam., terete to weakly or somewhat prominently angled
in cross section, angles occasionally minutely winged, mostly densely
clothed with leaves, older portions naked at the base to approximately
half their length, naked portions with prominent nodes to 30 mm
distant; foraging shoot subterete in cross section, to 2 mm diam.,
proximally with a few oblong cataphylls and reduced foliage-leaves
but soon becoming naked with slightly prominent nodes to 150 mm
distant. Leaves when fresh bright to mid-green adaxially, paler
abaxially, air drying dull green to brownish; petiole 0.5
140 mm x 4 20 mm, broadly winged, obovate-oblong to linear-oblong
or elongate-triangular, with 2 3 secondary veins and numerous
veinlets per side, all veins prominent, especially in dried material,
base decurrent to clawed, apex truncate, rounded or auriculate;
lamina 30 205 x 15 205 mm, ovate to elliptic or lanceolate
with 2 4 intramarginal veins per side, these arising from
the base and either immediately diverging or remaining very close
and parallel to midrib and then diverging further along lamina,
either reaching the leaf tip or merging into a prominent submarginal
collecting vein, additional veins arising obliquely from the midrib,
remaining parallel with numerous veins arising from them, base rounded
to acute, apex attenuate-mucronate to acute or attenuate, minutely
tubulate. Flowering shoot much abbreviated, arising from most of
the mid- to distal leaf axils of fertile shoots, bearing a minute
prophyll and a few 3 15 mm sequentially longer cataphylls.
Inflorescence solitary; peduncle 3 25 x 1.5 2.5 mm,
rather stout, erect to variously curved, green to brown-tinged;
spathe 4 12 x 4 10 mm, ovate, concave, margins inrolled,
base cordate, clasping and slightly decurrent on the peduncle, apex
fornicate to recurved, acute to subacute with a rather stout mucro,
greenish white to green, occasionally faintly purple-tinged, somewhat
waxy; spadix stipitate; stipe 5 10 x 1 1.25 mm, terete
in cross section, erect, straight, green; fertile portion 3.5
13 x 3 10 mm, globose to ovoid, pale green to white. Flowers
c. 1 2 mm diam.; tepals 1 x 0.3 mm, oblong-cymbiform, yellow-green
to dirty white, apex fornicate, triangular, truncate; stamens 1
4 x c. 0.5 mm, filaments strap-shaped, thecae c. 0.2 mm diam.,
yellow; ovary 1 1.5 x 0.25 0.75 mm, compressed angular-ellipsoid,
yellow-green to dirty white; stylar region truncate; stigma punctiform.
Infructescence with 1 5 berries; fruit 10 17.5 x 10
14 mm, obclavate to ovoid or ellipsoid, mid-green ripening
to scarlet, often with basal chartaceous tepal remains. Seeds c.
3 6 mm diam., ellipsoid to compressed-globose.
Distribution Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China
(Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hong Kong, Hubei, Macao, Sichuan,
Yunnan), India (Arunchal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa,
Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal), Lao P.D.R., Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan,
Habitat & Ecology On rocks and trees and in clearings
in tropical or subtropical primary or disturbed lowland wet or dry
evergreen forest, rainforest, hill evergreen forest, wet upper hill
to lower montane forest, ravines, in dry thickets and orange orchards,
sometimes in association with tall grasses and bamboo on sandstone,
limestone, granite, clay, loam or sandy soil. 250 2970 m.
Vernacular names Cag kheb (Thailand: Chiang Mai), Tun wa
(Thailand: Chiang Mai), Hmab Ntsua Nees (Thailand: Nan, Hmong dialect),
Wai Ta-kep (Thailand: Chiang Mai).
Ethnobotany Thailand: used fresh and applied topically
on insect and animal bites [Brun et al. 502 (C)]; entire plant as
a decoction in bath to treat tumours [Brun et al. 704 (C)]; plant
boiled and the liquid drunk for cough [Anderson 5572 (GH)].
Notes The differences cited by Engler (1905) &
Gagnepain (1942) between P. chinensis, P. yunnanensis,
P. balansae and P. cathcartii concern the shape and
dimensions of the fertile portion of the spadix. Study of numerous
herbarium specimens and of living plants in the field demonstrates
that these distinctions are unreliable.
The name P. chinensis has been applied to slender
climbers with a short petiole (less than one third as long as leaf
lamina) and small inflorescences with a prominent stipitate spadix.
Many of the collections agreeing with P. chinensis
s.s. (i.e. sensu Engler 1905) are from Hong Kong and Taiwan. However,
numerous collections from mainland China and further afield blur
these differences and, occasionally, different duplicates of the
same collection have been identified as separate species depending
on their robustness.
Pothos cathcartii is dimensionally in the mid-range of the complex
with generally medium sized inflorescences, and leaves with the
petiole and lamina approximately equal in length. However, the isotype
of P. cathcartii in K has a branch with individual inflorescence
dimensions matching both P. yunnanensis and P. cathcartii.
The names P. yunnanensis Engl. and P. balansae Engl.
have been applied to robust specimens. The isotype of P. yunnanensis
at K is an exceptionally robust specimen with leaf laminae in excess
of 200 mm long and several stout inflorescences each carried on
a 20 mm long peduncle. However, the isotype in GH is decidedly smaller
in stature and bears inflorescences whose dimensions fit well P.
cathcartii s.s. Engler (1905) distinguished P. balansae
by the oblong fertile portion of the spadix. The types of P.
balansae in P and K are in young fruit, the spadices distorted
by the enlarging ovaries. During fieldwork on Ba Vi (the type locality
of P. balansae) in 1994 and 1997 I observed plants on which,
depending on the age of the inflorescences, different branches could
be matched to typical P. chinensis or
P. cathcartii or P. balansae. There is a continuum
between the four species as defined by Engler and none can be satisfactorily
separated from another. The oldest name, P. chinensis,
is therefore adopted.
Pothos warburgii Engl., described from Taiwan, also belongs here.
The holotype at B is missing, presumed destroyed. The isotype at
the BM is also missing, with only the torn labels remaining in a
capsule mounted on Warburg 9697. Based on Englers protologue
and illustration (presumably based on the missing holotype since
Engler cites no other specimen) P. warburgii is a slender-leaved
form of P. chinensis.
Confusion can occur between P. scandens
and P. chinensis. In flower P. chinensis
is immediately recognizable by the straight, not bent, stipe and
the generally larger, paler, fewer, more scattered inflorescences.
Generally P. scandens has flowering shoots arising at many
of the leaf axils of long pendent fertile shoots, thus there are
often numerous inflorescences. By contrast P. chinensis
tends to produce flowering shoots at only the distal-most leaf axils
of short spreading fertile shoots, thus inflorescences are rather
few. Inflorescence colours also differ; purple spathe and cream
fertile spadix in P. scandens, green spathe and white to
yellow fertile spadix in P. chinensis.
Sterile material of P. chinensis can be difficult
to differentiate from P. scandens.
Generally the petioles are less than half as long as the lamina,
and the lamina is twice or more as broad as the petiole, narrower
and with a attenuate apex. However, variation is such that intermediates
are common. A feature noted in P. chinensis, but yet
to be recorded for P. scandens,
is the occurrence of flagelliform foraging shoots.
Geographically representative selection of collections studied:
CHINA. Guangdong: Ting Wu Shan, 7 May 1928, W.Y. Chun 6458 (fl.)
(GH). Guangxi: Loh Hoh Tsuen, Ling Yun Hsien, 1933, Steward &
H.C. Cheo 62 (fl.) (GH, P). Guizhou: Esquirol 70 (K). Hong Kong:
New Territories, Tai Mo Shan, 10 Oct. 1969, S.Y. Hu 8121 (fl.) (GH,
K). Hubei: Ichang, Nan-to mountains, May 1888, Henry 4395 (fl.)
(GH, K). Hainan: Bo Ting, 21 Oct. 1936, S.K. Lau 28069 (fl.) (GH).
Macao: 1844, Callery 195 (K, P). Sichuan: Omei Shan, 8 Aug. 1938,
C.Y. Chiao & C.S. Fan 254 (fl.) (GH). Yunnan: Meng-soong, Dah-meng-lung,
Che-li Hsien, Sept. 1936, C.W. Wang 78408 (fl.) (GH).
LAO P.D.R. Khammouan: Phou Phoung, 2 March 1932, Poilane 20278 (fl.)
(P). Louangphrabang: Phou Ngoi, near Louangphrabang, 2 April 1932,
Poilane 20612 (fl.) (P). Xieng Khouang: Between La Mine and Nadin,
April 1949, Vidal 917 (fl.) (SAI).
MYANMAR. Kachin: Sumprabum, eastern approaches from Sumprabum to
Kumon range, between Mache Ga and Sumprabum, 026° 40N,
097° 20E, 23 Jan. 1962, Keenan et al. 3381 (fl.) (GH,
K). Sagaing: Katha, Kadu Hill, 23 Feb. 1916, Lace 5112 (fl.) (K).
TAIWAN. Nantou Hsien, Chitou, San-cha-lun, 17 Feb. 1960, T.I. Chuang
& M.T. Kao 3259 (fl.) (GH).
THAILAND. N2. Chiang Mai: Doi Inthanon, trail just past check point
2, km32 on road to summit, 20 Sept. 1994, Boyce 983 (fl.) (BKF,
K and K Spirit Coll. no. 59590). N5. Nan: Doi Phukha N.P., by roadside
to summit, 019° 10N, 100° 06E, 22 Sept. 1996,
Boyce 1124 (fl.) (BKF, K, TCD). N8. Phrae: Mae Khaem, 018° 07N,
100° 09E, 2 Jan. 1972, Beusekom et al. 4659 (fl.) (BKF,
C, K, L). N10. Tak: Doi Pae Poe, about 90 km NW of Tak, 14 March
1968, Hansen & Smitinand 12909 (fl.) (BKF, C). N12. Phitsanulok:
So Pah, waterfall west of Tung Salaeng Luang, 22 July 1966, Larsen
et al. 713 (fl.) (BKF). NE16. Petchabun: Nam Nao N.P., trail west
from visitor centre, 23 Sept. 1994, Boyce 1012 (fl.) (BKF, K). NE17.
Loei: Dong Phrab Pran, Phu Rua N.P., 017° 28N, 101°
18E, 5 March 1993, Chantaranothai et al. 1087 (fl.) (BKF,
K, KKU, TCD. E28. Nakhon Ratchasima: Khao Yai NP, near old forest
station, 14 March 1968, Beusekom & Phengklai 51 (fl.) (BKF).
SW37. Kanchanaburi: Sai Yok, 18 Dec. 1961, Larsen 8810 (fl.) (GH).
C47. Saraburi: Kaeng Khoi, Than Pra Photisat, 7 Oct. 1979, Shimizu
et al. 19394 (fl.) (BKF). SE57. Prachin Buri: Ban Bung hills, 2
Aug. 1966, Larsen et al. 1137 (fl.) (AAU, BKF, GH). SE61. Chantaburi:
Kao Satap, 7 Jan. 1930, Kerr 17999 (fl., fr.) (BK, K, L, P). PEN66.
Phangnga: Kao Bangto, 22 Feb. 1929, Kerr 17187 (fl.) (BK, K, P).
VIETNAM. Cao Bang: Tra Linh, Quoc Toan, near Thang Heng lake in
environs of Thang Heng and Lung Tao villages, 4 Jan. 1996, Averyanov
et al. VH 2472 (fl.) (HN). Ha Tay: Bavi, Lan Kok valley, 022°
27N, 105° 01E, 16 April 1888, Balansa 2060 (fl.)
(type of Pothos balansae Engl. P holo; K iso). Khanh Hoa:
Lung Van, 26 Jan. 1931 (fl.) Poilane 18922 (P). Kon Tum: Dak Glai,
26 March 1968, Nguyen Kim Dao 161 (fl.) (HN). Lai Chau: Dien Bien
Phu, Muong Fang, 3 June 1961, Soviet-Vietnam Expedition 2427 (fl.)
(LE). Lang Song: Van Linh, Feb. 1938, Pételot 2286 (fl.)
(GH, SAI). Nghe An: Quy Chan, 25 Aug. 1963, Trinh Xuan Mai 737 (fl.)
(HN). Ninh Binh: Cuc Phuong N.P., c.100 km SW of Hanoi, 20°
16N, 105° 40E, 7 March 1997, Boyce 1164 (fl.) (HN,
K and K Spirit Coll. no. 63241.005, M). Quang Nam Da Nang:
Ba Ma, near Da Nang, 2 March 1939, Poilane 29197 (fl.) (P). Quang
Ninh: Vicinity of Ting Wu Shan, Chuk Phai, Ha Coi, 10 Nov.
17 Nov. 1936, W.T. Tsang 27239 (fl.) (C, GH K, P). Quang Tri: Dong
Che, near Quang Tri, 24 May 1924, Poilane 10569 (fl.) (P). Thai
Binh: Kieu Son, 26 Jan. 1961, Soviet-Vietnam Expedition 1722 (fl.)
(LE). Tuyen Quang: Ha Tuyen, Na Hang, Vinh Yen, Khao Phung, trail
between Ban Chou and Nam Ban, 022º 2104"N, 105º
25 35"E, 6 March 1994, Harder et al. 2351 (fl.) (HN,
MO). Vinh Phu: Tam Dao, ridge of Tam Dao above hillstation, 25 Aug.
1994, Boyce 819 (fl.) (HN, K).