Tale of a tail flower

Friday, June 15, 2012

This Anthurium cultivar has the
appropriate name 'Red Hot'.

Anthurium, a genus in the Araceae (aroid) family, translates as “tail flower” because the spadix resembles a mouse’s tail. Anthurium andraeanum is the species with the brilliantly colored spathe and often-colorful spadix, sometimes called flamingo flower. It is high flowering season for this wonderful species. But then, it’s high flowering season for most anthuriums, and even those grown for their foliage often have understated but delicately beautiful inflorescences.

A French botanist, Edouard Andre, collected Anthurium andraeanum from Colombia and in 1876 sent it to a Belgian nursery owner, Jean Linden, according to an article written by Mike Madison in an early volume of Aroideana, the journal of the International Aroid Society.

By 1889, the plant was introduced into Hawaii, where growers

An elegant inflorescence.

eventually learned to propagate it from seed. It became a darling of the cut flower industry. Two-toned spathes appeared and were termed Obake types, with large spathes that lasted for several weeks. Obake is Japanese for ghost or change. By the 1950s, double spathes were developed. Today, there are miniature cultivars as well as enormous plants on the market, with two-toned, striped, marbled, orange, red, pink, purple and white spathes.

The plants love moisture, heat and humidity. Excellent drainage is a must for most aroids, so your soil or container mix might contain pine bark soil conditioner or sand, Perlite and peat moss. Protection from cold may be necessary, and for that reason, I keep prized aroids in containers so they can be moved inside during a cold snap.