Scientific classification Kingdom : Plantae : Angiosperms  : Monocots Order : Alismatales Family : Araceae Tribe : Anthurieae Genus : Antherium

Anthurium is a large genus of about 600- 800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family (Araceae). Anthurium can also be called "Flamingo Flower" or "Boy Flower", both referring to the structure of the spathe and spadix. TROPICOS lists 1901 types, although some of these are duplicates. It is one of the largest and probably the most complex genus of this family; certainly it is one of the most variable. Many species are undoubtedly not yet described and new ones are being found every year. The species has neotropical distribution; mostly in wet tropical mountain forest of Central America and South America, but some in semi-arid environments. Most species occur in Panama, Colombia, Brazil, the Guiana Shield and Ecuador. According to the work of noted aroid botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this genus is not found in Asia. Some species have been introduced into Asian rain forests, but are not endemic.
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Anthurium grows in many forms, mostly evergreen, bushy or climbing epiphytes with roots that can hang from the canopy all the way to the floor of the rain forest. There are also many terrestrial forms which are found as understory plants, as well as hemiepiphytic forms. A hemiepiphyte is a plant capable of beginning life as a seed and sending roots to the soil, or beginning as a terrestrial plant that climbs a tree and then sends roots back to the soil. They occur also as lithophytes. Some are only found in association with arboreal ant colonies or growing on rocks in midstream (such as Anthurium amnicola). The stems are short to elongate with a length between 15 and 30 cm. The simple leaves come in many shapes; most leaves are to be found at the end of the stems, although terrestrial plants show less of this pachycaul tendency. Leaves may be spatulate, rounded, or obtuse at the apex. They may be borne erect or spreading in a rosette, with a length that may surpass 100 cm in some of the larger species (such as Anthurium angamarcanum). The upper surface of the leaf may be matte, semiglossy, or fully glossy, and the leaf texture may range from leathery to fragile and papery. The leaves are petiolate and possess a structure called the geniculum, which is unique to the genus Anthurium. The geniculum allows the plant to swivel its leaves towards the sun, much in the same manner as sunflowers. In drier environments, the leaves can form a bird's-nest shaped rosette that enables the plant to collect falling debris, and thus water and natural fertilizer. Terrestrial growers or epiphytes often have cordate leaves; others grow as vines with rosettes of lanceolate leaves, and still others have many-lobed leaves.19

Growth habits:

Anthurium flowers are small (about 3 mm) and develop crowded in a spike on a fleshy axis, called a spadix, a characteristic of the Araceae. The flowers on the spadix are often divided sexually with a sterile band separating male from female flowers. This spadix can take on many forms (clubshaped, tapered, spiraled, and globe-shaped) and colors (white, green, purple, red, pink, or a combination). The spadix is part of an inflorescence, the outer portion of which is known as the spathe. The spathe may be a single color (yellow, green, or white) or possibly multicolored including burgundy and red. That sometimes colorful, solitary spathe is a showy modified bract that can be somewhat leathery in texture. Anthurium grown for the florist trade generally have highly coloured spathes and spadices. There are no flowers on the spathe as is sometimes thought; flowers are found solely on the spadix. The spathe can vary in color from pale green to white, rose, orange or shiny red (such as A. andrenaum). The color changes between the bud stage and the anthesis, (the time the flower expands). Thus the color might change from pale green to reddish purple to reddish brown.

Flowering and Fruiting:

The flowers are hermaphrodite, containing male and female flowers. The fruits are usually berries with one to multiple seeds on an infructescence that may be pendant or erect depending on species. Anthurium berries may range in colour from bright red to black, and may also be bicoloured or shaded. The flowers of Anthurium give off a variety of fragrances, each attracting a variety of specific pollinators. Several species are popular in the florist trade as pot plants or cut flowers and for interior decoration. They include forms such as A. crystallinum f peltifolium with its large, velvety, darkgreen leaves and silvery white venation. Most hybrids are based on A. andreanum or A. scherzerianum because of their colorful spathes. Anthurium can also be called "Flamingo Flower" or "Boy Flower", both referring to the structure of the spathe and spadix.

Anthurium scherzerianum inflorescence

Anthurium digitatum detail

Such a large genus cannot be described by a few general terms. Schott, in his book Prodromus Systematis Aroidearum (1860), grouped the then known 183 species in 28 sections. In 1905 Engler revised these sections into 18 sections. In 1983 Croat &  Sheffer came up with the following section. Belolonchium Calomystrium Cardiolonchium Chamaerepium Cordatopunctatum Dactylophyllium Decurrentia Digitinervium Gymnopodium Leptanthurium Pachyneurium Polyphyllium Polyneurium Porphyrochitonium Schizoplacium Semaeophyllium Tetraspermium Urospadix Xialophyllium


Commenly known Antherium species: Anthurium warocqueanum "Queen Anthurium" Anthurium veitchii - "King Anthurium" Anthurium andreanum Flamingo Lily Anthurium hookeri - Bird's Nest Anthurium Anthurium scandens - Pearl Laceleaf Anthurium scherzerianum Flamingo Plant, Banner Plant

Flowering group  Antherium andreanum, A. bakeri, A. ferrierense, A.ornatum, A.regale, A.regnellianum, A.robustum, A. scherzerianum. Foliage Group Antherium Clarinervium, A. corrugatum, A. crystallinum, A. holtonianum, A. leuconerum, A. magnificum, A. panduratum, A. papilionensis, A. Splendidum, A. veitchii and A. warocqueanum. Among the various species, A. andreanum and A. scherzerianum are cultivated extensively for the production of flowers.

Important Species:


The basic chromosome numbers of antherium are n=15, 16 and 22. The species like A. andreanum (2n=30), A. hooki (2n=30) and A. magnificum (2n=32) are diploid; A. scandens (2n=45) is triploid and A. digitatum and A. wallisii (4n=60) are tetraploid. The chromosome number of A. warocqueanum was found to be 2n=30+3 B chromosome. These were classified as 2 pairs of large chromosomes, 1 pair of satelite chromosomes, 12 pairs of medium to small chromosomes, and 3 B chromosomes. Self pollination resulted in offspring with 2, 3 and 4 B chromosomes, indicating the transmission of B chromosomes through both pollen and egg. Sheffer and croat worked out the chromosome number in 86 anthurium species from North, Central and South America. Fiftyone species had 2n=24 to 66, 30 being the most common. Paleoneuploidy, polyploidy and B chromosomes had been the basic features of the genus, but aneuploidy has not been found.

A few controlled hybridization indicated that neither white nor red flower colour was dominant and pink was an intermidiate heterozygous condition. Anthocyanins in the spathes of various A. andreanum cultivars were identified as cyanidin 3rhamnosylglucoside and pelargonidin 3-rhamnosylglucoside. Both pigments are present in cvs. Ozaki, Kaumana, Kozohara, Kansako No. 1 and Nakazawa, and in the pink cultivar Marian Seefurth. The orange cv. Nitta and the coral coloured cv. TateishiCoral contained only pelargonidin 3-rhamnosylglucoside. Speathe colour in this species was determined by the relative concentration of the anthocyanins : a predominance of cyanindin 3rhamnosylglucosidewhich results in pink to dark red colours whereas a predominance of pelargondin 3-rhamnosylglucoside resulted in coral to orange. A flavone present in large and variable amount was characterized by not demonstrated to have a modifying effect on cyanic shades.

Maurer (1979) describe the techniques of croos-pollinating A. scherzerianum and dicuss the presence of recessive charcters (A=with anthocyanin, a=without anthocyanin, B=whole speath coloured and b=spotted speath). When the parents were Aa/Bb, the decendents were 9 red (AB), 3 red spots on white (Abb) and 4 white (aaB and aabb). The deficit in white plants was provisionally attributed to their luck of vigour.

Hybridization and selection are the most common methods for improving anthurium. Productivity, flower colour, shape and texture, short internodes and suckering ability are different characters to be consider in selection. Two cultivars, Uniwai (an exceptionally high yielding white)and Marian seefurth with a roe opal spathe were evolved by clonal selection. Kamemoto and Sheffer (1978) made sucessful crosses between A. scherzerianum and A.wendlingerii to produce a hybrid with a grayish-orange spathe. Other characteristics, such as the length and coil of the spadix and the length and the position of the leaf were intermidiate between the highly contrasting characteristics of the parental species. Fertility in this hybrid was very good, indicating the relatively close taxonomic relationship of the two species. Gajek and Schwarz (1980) describe five A. andrenum hybrids, valuable for all the year round cut flower whih use a limited energy input. The best of the cultivars are the medium sized Iga Gold with a shiney red spathe and a white spadix with yellow tip, and the compact Ellrina with a vermillion light salmon spathe and a sulpher yellow spadix. In india breeding programe of breeding is negliable this is main area of concern as we importing varieties from outside increase the production cost.


Important varieties cultivated in India:

Cut flower varieties Red- Tropical, Cancan, Ozaki, Hawaiian Red, Jewel. Fla Red, Avo Netta, Scarlet, Flame, Pumesila, Tanaka, Mauritius, Tina Red, Cherry Red, Eureka Red, Honduras. Orange- Mauritius, Avo Gino, Gino Orange, Sun burst, Suset Orange, Nitta. White- Haga White, Ivory, Cotopaxi, Lima White, Acropolis, Manoa Mist, Trinidad, Meringue White, Lima White. Pink- Pink Hawaii, Abe Pink, Sonata, Aymara, Candy Stripe, Agnihotri, Passion, Marian Seefurth, Candy Queen. Obaque- Red Dragon, Fantasia, Madonna, Lambada, Senator. Green- Akapana, Esmeralda, Midori. Pot VarietiesCoralis, Pumesilo, Rosario, Patino, Condor.