Anthurium (Schott, 1829), is a large neotropical genus of about 600- 800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family (Araceae). It is the largest and probably the most complex genus of this family. Many species are undoubtedly not described yet and new ones are being found every year.
They grow in the most diverse habitats, mostly in wet tropical mountain forest of Central America and South America, but some in semi-arid environments. Most species occur in Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.
Anthurium grows in many forms, mostly evergreen, bushy or climbing epiphytes with relatively few roots. They occur also as terrestrials or lithophytes. Some are only found in association with arboreal ant colonies or growing on rocks in midstream (such as A. 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 stem. They can be spatulate, rounded, or obtuse at the apex. They may be erect or spreading in a rosette, with a length up to 40 cm. The upper surface is matted or semiglossy. The leaves are petiolate. In drier environments, the leaves can take a bird's-nest-shape rosette that enables the plant to collect water. Terrestrials or epiphytes usually have cordate leaves. Some grow as vines with rosettes of lanceolate leaves. Some species have many-lobed leaves.
The flowers are small (about 3 mm) and develop crowded in a spike with a fleshy axis and called a spadix, a characteristic of the arums. This spadix can take on many forms (club-shaped, tapered, spiraled, and globe-shaped) and colors (white, green, purple, red, pink, or a combination).
Usually just below the flower spike lies a colorful, solitary spathe: a showy modified bract that can be somewhat leathery in texture. The spathe consists of a tightly packed column of spirally arranged, tiny flowers. 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.
The flowers are hermaphrodite, containing male and female flowers. The fruits are usually berries with one to multiple seeds on a pendent infructescence.
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
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