The first species of Syngonium was described by Linnaeus as Arum auritum in his second edition of Species Plantarum in 1763. Other species of Syngonium were described by early botanical workers in the genera Caladium and Xanthosoma. The latter two genera, both neotropical in distribution, are members of the subfamily Colocasioideae but are now circumscribed as terrestrial, basically acaulescent genera with entire or pedatisect leaves.The genus Arum, in the subfamily Aroideae, as now circumscribed, is restricted to Europe and the Mediterranean region.
The name Syngonium was first used by Schott in 1829. By the time Schott published his Synopsis Aroidearum in 1856 there were 11 described species, the bulk of them having been described in that work. However, of those 11 species, 1 recognize only 1 in this revision, namely, S. auritum (most of the species having been synonymized with the widespread S. podophyllum). Schott's (1860) Prodromus Systematis Aroidearum dealt with 20 taxa, of which only S. schottianum, S. hoffmannii, S. wendlandii, S. salvadorense, S. podophyllum var. peliocladum, S. neglectum, and S. angustatum are recognized by me. These new species were based on collections of H. Wendland, C. Hoffmann, F. M. Liebmann and A. S. Oersted in Mexico and Central America during the 1840s and 1850s.
The last revision of Syngonium was that by Engler & Krause (1920) published in Das Pflanzenreich. In that treatment two additional species were added (as now recognized) namely S. hastifolium and S. macrophyllum. The remainder of the species published on or before this revision by Engler have been either placed into synonymy or transferred to other genera.
The most important recent work with Syngonium was that by Birdsey (1955) who completed a detailed morphological review of the Central American and West Indian (in part) species for his doctoral thesis. Although this work was never published, the thorough anatomical studies remain an important contribution. In Birdsey's work a number of new species were described. Two of these species were subsequently described by Bunting (1966) and an additional one, S. triphyllum, is described in this paper. Bunting described a total of 6 recognized species during his work in Central America and in Venezuela. A single Syngonium described by E. Matuda is also recognized.
Most of the new species described in this work are relatively rare species collected in the past decade but a few rare species, such as S. steyermarkii and S. laterinervium, were collected as long as 30 years ago but not recognized.