Scindapsus pictus

The approximately 20 species that make up this genus are distributed in India, the Malay archipelago and New Guinea; one — Scindapsus occidentalis — is also found in the Amazon region. To date, however, only the species has been introduced into cultivation.

Scindapsus pictus is native to the Malay region where it grows in lowland forests. The stem climbs high up to the tree tops, clinging to the trunks by means of aerial roots that penetrate the crevices in the bark. The leaves have short stalks (2 to 4 cm [¾ to 1 in] long), the blades are roughly heart-shaped and measure up to 15 cm (6 in) in length. They are coloured deep green to blackish green with blue-white markings when they first appear; these mottlings later merge.

More frequently found in cultivation is the variety argyraeus, differing only in that the leaves are more pronouncedly heart-shaped at the base and have conspicuous silver mottlings on the underside that do not merge to form patches. It is quite possible, of course, and even probable that this is not a variety but merely the juvenile form of the given species; such mistaken identification is quite common amongst aroids.

Cultivation is very easy, and practically the same as for other aroid climbers. Propagation is by means of cuttings, which may be put to root in water, though it is recommended to put them in a closed plastic bag together with green sphagnum moss where they will reliably form roots within about 14 days. The growing medium should be a light, porous, acid mixture composed chiefly of peat; the plants may also be grown in pure fibrous peat. They should be given only light applications of feed, taking care not to give them too much nitrogen which results in less conspicuous mottlings.

Scindapsus and all other such climbers may be used to good effect on a trunk together with epiphytes. They may also be grown as solitary specimens, and look attractive in a flat, ceramic dish.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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