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Products > Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum
Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum - Tree philodendron

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tropical
Family: Araceae (Arums)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Philodendron bipinnatifidum, P. selloum]
Height: 6-10 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum (Tree philodendron) - A large shrub to 10' tall and wide with bold shiny, deeply-lobed green leaves up to 4 feet long. The flowers have large white spathes but are inconspicuous under the leaves though older specimens are large enough that the flowers may be seen from below and often aerial roots can also be seen hanging down from the stems or snaking along the soli. This upright species from Brazil has long been grown in California with older plants making dramatic specimen plants. Plant in cool coastal sun to shade inland and irrigate regularly to occasionally - older plants in shade are surprisingly drought resistant. Hardy to short duration temperatures as low as 20° F with some damage to new foliage and reliably hardy to 25° F. There is some confusion regarding the name of this plant and many references note that its correct name should be Philodendron bipinnatifidum, a plant described in the 1830s by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott from plants collected by him in Brazil and cultivated at Schoenbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna. In the 1850s Karl Koch described Philodendron selloum, a name honoring his source of the plant H. Sello, the head gardener at Sans Souci, the Imperial Prussian estate at Potsdam. Even in the late 19th century there was confusion between these names with some thought that it may have originated because of a professional rivalry between these two men. Adding to this confusion, Schott first published the name P. bipinnatifidum in 1832, but did not fully describe the plant until 3 years after Koch described P. selloum in Appendix Specierum. If it was a simple naming issue the older name, Philodendron bipinnatifidum, would take precedence, but there are also differences listed in the descriptions of these two species that kept the argument alive. Most noticeably P. selloum was described with a spathe that is green colored on the outside while those of P. bipinnatifidum were described as purple-brown and those observed in California have the green spathes. In 1991 Dr. Simon Mayo, a botanist and curator of the Aroid collection at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew postulated that these names were synonyms for the same species, with forms exhibiting slight anatomical differences and that since the name Philodendron bipinnatifidum was the first of the two to be published, it was the accepted scientific name. The story doesn't end here however as in 2018 Brazilian botanist Cassia Sakuragui at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro working with Dr. Mayo at Kew, determined through DNA analysis that this plant, as well as a number of other closely related species (those in the subgenus Meconostigma), are more distantly related to plants first described as Philodendron and have reassigned them as species in the genus Thaumatophyllum, making this plants current valid name Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. The original genus name Philodendron was derived from the Greek words 'philos', meaning 'to love" and 'déndron' meaning "a tree", likely in reference to the way these plants climbed up and often attached themselves to trees. The genus Thaumatophyllum, which previously only had a single monotypic species, comes from the Greeks word 'thaűma', meaning "miracle" and 'phyllon' meaning "a leaf" that combine to mean something like "miraculous leaf". The specific epithet comes from the combination of the words 'bi', meaning "twice" or "double", "pinnae" meaning "feather" and 'findus', meaning "to split" in reference to the bilaterally symmetrical division of the leaves into segments. 

This information about Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.