Philodendron

Philodendron, an ornamental plant native to tropical America. It is a popular potted plant in the United States. About 200 species, and many hybrid forms, are known. The philodendron has large, fleshy leaves that may be heart-shaped, oval, or oblong with or without lobes. The leaves contain the crystalline toxin calcium oxalate. Young children and pets should be kept away from the plant because eating the leaves causes swelling and blistering in the mouth and throat. The philodendron has a thick, woody stem and tiny, inconspicuous flowers. It has orangish-white berries.

In the wild, the philodendron is a tree-climbing vine. (Its name, from the Greek, means “tree loving.”) Cultivated varieties usually are provided with a moss-covered or cloth-wrapped climbing pole. The plant grows rapidly in a damp mixture of loamy earth and peat or fir bark. It may be injured by direct sunlight.

Philodendrons form a genus of the arum family, Araceae. A popular cultivated species of philodendron is Philodendron cordatum, with heart-shaped leaves.