Native to Brazil, this Philodendron is unique in that it grows a semi-woody/arborescent-like stem. The stem can grow over 3 meters tall and can produce several aerial roots. The leaves are large and have what appear to be multiple slits running along them, becoming more prominent and ruffled as the plant ages. This particular monocot’s leaves look similar to the leaves of Monstera deliciosa.
Philodendron bipinnatifidum (King Philodendron, Tree Philodendron, Split Leaf Philodendron, Selloum) [old name: Philodendron selloum]
Hardiness Zones: 9-11
Height: up to 4.6 meters (15 feet) tall
Diameter: Stem reaches 6 inches in diamater; the entire plant can reach 10 feet in diameter.
Growth Rate: fast
Age: Reaches reproductive maturity at around 20 years old.
Root System: Forms aerial roots, easily propogated by root cuttings with multiple nodes (buds)
Family: Araceae, subgenus Meconostigma
Subspecies: ‘German Selloum’ has narrow leaf lobes; ‘Variegatum’ has yellow marks on leaves; ‘Gold Satin’ has bright yellow leaves; ‘Little Crunchy’ (dwarf with thicker leaves); ‘Lime Fiddle’ (from Thailand, has an odd, variegated pattern); ‘Xanadu’ (does very well in full shade); ‘Lundii’ (compact)
Tolerates: Generally pest and disease free.
Problems (major): drought, dry soil
Problems (minor): Grows very large from small plants, requires a lot of space to grow. King Philodendron also has a low salt tolerance. Infrequently mites and scale are minor pests.
Poisonous: Generally poisonous if consumed, sap may irritate skin.
Soil requirements: Requires moist, well-drained soils. P. bipinnatifidum prefers deals well with slightly acidic, slightly alkaline, and neutral soils.
Accepts clay, sandy, and loam soils.
Air Requirements: high humidity (mist in winter if indoors)
Watering requirement: requires regular watering
Sun requirement: part-shade or bright, indirect light indoors (some cultivars or varieties require more light), full shade in desert or very arid regions
Leaf size: up to 0.9 meters (3 feet) long, up to 18 inches wide, deeply dissected, thinner than most Philodendron
Leaf shape: The leaves are thin and look as if neatly cut. Pinnately divided, these grow to considerable sizes.
Stem length: up to 15 feet tall
Stem width: up to 6 inches in length
Other stem qualities: The stem is semi-woody and bears leaf scars. If the plant grows too large, the stem will droop over due to the weight. It produces aerial roots and many adventitious shoots that can later turn into stems.
Flowering structure: The inflorescence consists of a deep green to light green spathe. The spadix is is very light green to white. The spadix contains thousands of flowers with fertile male flowers on top, fertile female flowers in the lower section, and sterile male flowers in the center region. The spadix exerts heat, for the first few days it opens it exceeds 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat attracts beetles, its primary pollinator.
Flowering frequency: almost never flowers indoors
Fruits: small, green, fleshy
Epiphyte: Does not live on trees, but may use their stems or trunk as support.
Propagation methods: Easily propagated by stem cuttings, dividing basal shoots, and seeds
Aside from its very large, pinnately formed leaves, this Philodendron is most easily recognized by its unusual stem. The large, semi-woody stem resembles a tree trunk with several leaf scars. However, the trunk-like stem will usually droop over if the plant is unable to support its weight once mature. This stem produces many aerial roots.
Usually serves as a specimen plant, grown in containers. Sometimes grown in greenhouses or outdoors where applicable.
The photos provided were taken by me on February 8th, 2014. They may be used for educational or informational purposes, provided that this article and/or blog is properly cited.