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Scientific: Philodendron bipinnatifidum (formerly known as Philodendron selloum)
Common: Fiddle leaf philodendron, lacy tree philodendron
Family: Araceae
Origin: Tropical rainforests of south Brazil into Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

Pronounciation: Fill-o-DEN-dron bi-pin-na-ti-FI-dum

Hardiness zones
8-12, 13 (with protection from sun), 14-24, and as an indoor plant in colder zones
USDA 9 (with protection)-11, and as an indoor plant in colder zones

Landscape Use: In outdoors, use as textural accent shrub for entryways, patios, landscape planters under building overhangs, and large outdoor atriums. Also, grown as indoor specimen plant under bright indirect light conditions.

Form & Character: Upright, visually imposing, stiff, awkward, tropical.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, fibrous and succulent, broadleaf pereninal shrub, moderately slow growing to 1- (dwarf cultivars) to 12-feet tall and eventually producing a trunk, sometimes climbing with adventitious root. This plant will grow much faster and become much larger in more tropical climates.

Foliage/Texture: Leaves are large thick and leathery bright green to 3-feet long, deeply pinntified. Petiole flattened on adaxial side. Over time will form a distinct hairy trunk with dominant leaf scars in a spiral arrangement and eventually adventitious roots. All philodendrons produce cataphylls, which are modified leaves that surround and protect the newly forming leaves. Fiddle leaf philodendron has a very coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Fiddle leaf philodendron takes about 15 to 20 years to reach reproductive maturity and almost never flowers or fruits when cultivated in Phoenix because of the environmental stress of the desert climate. The flower of fiddle leaf philodendron is a club-shaped stalk with a modified leaf called a spathe partially surrounding it and serving as a hood. Flowers can reach over 1 foot in length and contain about 3000 white florets on the stalk. The uppermost flowers are fertile males, the lowermost flowers are fertile females, and the middle flowers are sterile males. The sterile male flowers produce heat. The flowers are borne throughout most of the year in south Florida, coastal southern California and Hawaii.

Seasonal Color: None

Temperature: Hardy to 30oF. Prefers mild to warm tropical or Mediterranean climate conditions such as this 'beaut' growing in full sun in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Light: In Phoenix, full shade please!!!

Soil: Tolerant of alkalinity but will yellow. Prefers organic soils that are slightly acidic. Salt sensitive.

Watering: Irrigate regularly throughout the year, though somewhat less in winter.

Pruning: Rarely needs pruning, except to remove the large senescent leaves.

Propagation: Easily propagated by seed, stem cuttings containing at least two nodes, or division of basal offshoots.

Disease and Pests: None

Additional comments: Generally, in Phoenix this is a surprisingly bold and tough plant that will stand much abuse as long as it is grown in shade. Philodendron is from the Greek meaning tree loving, in reference to the climbing ability of the members of this genus. Philodendron bipinnatifidum produces an irritating latex sap exudates as much as 0.7% of oxalates in the form of calcium oxalate crystals. These oxalates can be mildly toxic to humans causing swelling upon contact.

Fiddle leaf philodendron cultivars include 'Gold Satin' (has bright yellow leaves), 'Little Crunchy' (dwarf plant with thickened leaves like buttercrunch lettuce), 'Lime Fiddle' (has a weird greenish variegated pattern, from Thailand), and 'Xanadu' (an every increasingly popular and outstanding dwarf form that will do well in shade, especially in southern California). Here is 'Xanadu' being grown in a landscape planter in an indoor artium at the Los Angeles airport. And here's another planting of 'Xanadu' at the main entrance to the convention center in Brisbane, Australia.

Weird botanical facts: What is truly amazing about the flower of the Philodendron bipinnatifidum though, is its ability to maintain a constant high temperature. For the 2 days that the flower is open, it maintains a temperature of 114oF, while the ambient air temperature may fluctuate from 40oF to 80oF. The flowers are actually hot to the touch. No other plant on Earth is known to control its temperature, and the mechanism that maintains this is an oddity in the plant world. The sterile male flowers of Philodendron bipinnatifidum utilize fat to fuel this energy intensive reaction. This is rare, since plants usually utilize carbohydrates (starches, sugars) for energy. The chemical pathways by which the sterile male flowers use their large reserves of fat for energy are similar to the catabolic pathways found in animals.