center of diversity for Syngonium is in Costa Rica and Panama,
which together have a total of 16 species. Costa Rica has 13 species
while Panama has 11 species. Mexico is a secondary center of diversity
with 8 species. Middle America (Guatemala to Costa Rica) has 8 species
and the West Indies proper have but a single species (with another
The most common and widespread species is S.
podophyllum which ranges from Mexico to Brazil. Except for
most of the remainder are much less wide ranging and many, such
as S. glaucopetiolatum,
S. gentryanum, S.
hastifolium, S. laterinervium,
S. llanoense, S.
occidentale, S. podophyllum
var. peliocladum, S.
sagittatum, S. sparreorum,
and S. steyermarkii,
are believed to be geographically isolated. Some, such as S.
mauroanum, occupy special, restricted life zones while others
such as S. podophyllum and S.
hoffmannii occupy a wide variety of ecological habitats.
are relatively few species of Syngonium in South America,
though admittedly South America has been less well explored. In
addition to the widespread S. podophyllum, which occurs in
all parts of tropical South America, there is only one other species,
S. macrophyllum, which ranges into South America from Central
America. There are 11 species that are endemic to South America.
is possible that Syngonium was a component of the remnant
Paleogene tropical North American flora, as was suggested by Madison
(1977) for the genus Monstera. Representatives of all sections
of Syngonium are present in Central America, whereas only
the two more common sections Syngonium and Cordatum are represented
in South America. In addition, both of these sections are much better
represented in Central America.
distribution of Syngonium species does not show any of the
disjunct distributional patterns for Central America that are exhibited
by Monstera (Madison, 1977). Except for the three species of Syngonium
already mentioned, which range from Mexico to Costa Rica or beyond
(i.e., S. angustatum,
S. macrophyllum and S. podophyllum), all other species
in Central America are restricted either to Mexico or to Costa Rica
that the paucity of Syngonium species in parts of Central
America may be due to undercollecting is the fact that W. D. Stevens,
now working on the Flora of Nicaragua, has already added S.
schottianum to the flora of Nicaragua. It was previously
thought to be restricted to Costa Rica and Panama.
suggestion that Mexican species have long been isolated from those
of Costa Rica and Panama is supported by the fact that only 3 Mexican
species reach Panama, these being S. angustatum and the two
widespread species S. podophyllum and S. macrophyllum,
which range to South America.
that there may have been a long separation of populations of Mexican
and Costa Rican or Panamanian species can be seen in the morphological
variation among Mexican and Costa Rican populations of the two most
widespread species in Central America. Both S. podophyllum
and S. macrophyllum populations in Costa Rica and Panama
differ in many ways from those in Mexico. These differences are
discussed in the commentary following each species.