Pigtail Plant

Pigtail Plant

Pigtail Plant

In January I talked about my one resolution in this post. A few weeks ago, I was at Hidden Lake Garden in Tipton, MI and found a plant I thought would be interesting for my next post. 

First, I want to talk about the necessity of using botanical names. The plant I’m describing is called the Flamingo flower but I’ve already written a post about the flamingo flower. So, how does that happen?  Because there are many common names for plants but only one Latin name for each plant. The two plants pictured below both have the common name of flamingo flower. 

  

Left- Justicia, Right- Anthurium


Today I’m talking about the Anthurium scherzerianum or flamingo flower, also called the pigtail plant. I definitely understand the pigtail name more than the flamingo. The translation of anthurium is from the words “anthos” = flower and “oura” = tail. 

This Anthurium is from the rainforests of Costa Rica and was first described by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott (1794-1865), in 1857.  He was an Austrian botanist born in Vienna and was appointed the royal gardener in Vienna in 1828. He studied and wrote about Anthuriums.

  Anthurium scherzerianum resembles the Anthurium andreanum, the florist anthurium with which we are most familiar. These two species are where most of the hybrids originate from. 

 

Anthurium andreanum hybrid

 
As you can see, the difference is the straight spadix and the curly spadix. The pigtail anthurium is easier to grow as it can tolerate lower humidity and drier conditions. Whereas you might think the colorful part is the flower, it is a bract and is called the spathe. The spadix is actually the flower. These flowers are pollinated by male Euglossini bees, also called orchid bees. They pollinate Stanhopeinae and Castasetinae orchids, as well as Anthurium, Spathiphyllum, and Gloxinia

 

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia


 These plants are very popular in the houseplant industry but are even more popular in the florist industry. The inflorescences are used as cut flowers and have been hybridized to have a large amount of different colors. They last for over 8 weeks as cut flowers and are graded for the cut flower industry by the width of their spathe.   

     
They were originally grown under the shade of cocoa and citrus trees but today are grown under shade covers. These plants are best grown in bright light, never full sun. They love moist soil with very high humidity. In your home, keeping your plant on a pebble tray is the best way to keep the air humid around your plant. Keep the leaves wiped down or put them in the shower once in a while- that’s what I do. The Anthurium can be grown epiphytically (no soil), or terrestrially (with soil) and would like temps between 60-72 degrees, so our homes are a perfect temp. As a side note, Anthuriums are poisonous because they have calcium oxalate in their tissue. Keep your pets and kids away from them or at least keep them from chewing on them. 

The Anthurium scherzerianum probably won’t be as easy to find as the florist varieties, but I will be looking for one because I love the curly pigtail spadix.  

   

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