Comprehensive Description

provided by Smithsonian Contributions to Botany
Aglaonema simplex

Aglaonema simplex Blume, 1837, p. 152, pls. 36D, 65.

Caladium simplex Reinwardt ex Blume, 1823, p. 103 [nomen nudum].

Aglaonema schottianum Miquel, 1856 (Aug. 15), p. 565; 1856 (Dec. 25), p. 216.

A. malaccense Schott, 1859, p. 30.

A. longicuspidatum Schott, 1860, p. 304.

A. propinquum Schott, 1864, p. 280.

A. birmanicum Hooker f., 1893, p. 529.

A. nicobaricum Hooker f., 1893, p. 530.

A. angustifolium N. E. Brown, 1895, p. 18.

A. angustifolium var. undulatum Ridley, 1907, p. 21.—Furtado, 1937, p. 243.

A. borneense Engler, 1915, p. 22.

A. schottianum var. genuinum Engler, 1915, p. 20.

A. schottianum var. genuinum f. angustifolium (N. E. Brown) Engler, 1915, p. 20.

A. schottianum var. brownii Engler, 1915, p. 21.

A. schottianum var. malaccense (Schott) Engler, 1915, p. 21.

A. schottianum var. winkleri Engler, 1915, p. 21, fig. 7.

A. brevivaginatum van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 324.

A. elongatum van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 326.

A. emarginatum van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 324.

A. grande van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 325.

A. latius van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 325.

A. nieuwenhuisii Engler ex van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 320.

A. simplex f. inaequale van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 323.

A. simplex f. typicum van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 323.

A. subarborescens van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, 1922, p. 326.

In the following description some exceptional measurements have been included in brackets which were given by van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh in his description of A. subarborescens.

Stem erect, 15–120 [300] cm tall, 0.4–1.7 (2.5) cm thick, thickest near the base. Internodes usually less than stem diameter, 0.3–2.5 cm long, longest near base of stem. Petioles (4.3) 5–12 (21.5) [27.5] cm long, (0.2) 0.3–0.5 (0.9) times as long as the leaf-blade. Sheaths usually with a membranous but sometimes slightly scarious margin, (1) 3–10 (22) cm long, (0.25) 0.5–0.8 (1) times as long as the petiole. Leaf-blades narrowly oblong, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, occasionally linear, elliptic or ovate, (10) 13–25 (35) cm long, (1.9) 4–10 (25) cm wide, length/width ratio 1: (1.5)2.8–5.0(10); base often unequal or oblique, obtuse, rounded or subtruncate, rarely acute or subcordate; apex often apiculate, acuminate, sometimes abruptly or gradually acuminate; variegation none; venation strongly differentiated into (3) 5–10 (14) primary lateral veins diverging from the midrib at (15°) 30°–50° (60°), rarely weakly differentiated; texture coriaceous. Peduncles (1) 2–4 (6), (1.5) 4–9 (12) [17.5] cm long. Spathe often apiculate, (2.3) 3–5 (6.5) cm long. decurrent (0.3) 0.4–1.0 (1.5) cm long. Stipe (0.2) 0.4–0.8 (1.2) cm long. Spadix equaling or slightly exceeding spathe, (1.7) 2–4 (4.3) cm long; pistillate portion 0.3–1.0 cm long, pistils (12) 18–30 (38); staminate portion (1.5) 2.0–3.1 (3.8) cm long, 0.5 cm thick. Fruits turning red, 1–1.7 cm long, 0.5–0.8 cm wide.

TYPE COLLECTIONS.—Java, voet Pulusarie, [Kuhl and van Hasselt] 12 (lectotype: L); Java, Gedogang, nahe van Kapang dungar, Kuhl and van Hasselt s.n. (syntype: L). Out of all the specimens in various herbaria, principally Leiden, that might be considered as type material, these are the only specimens with original labels that definitely associate them with Blume’s citations and discussions. I have selected the specimen from Mt. Pulusarie as lectotype since it shows a long-stipitate spadix. Shortness of the stipe was used by Miquel to segregate A. schottianum from A. simplex.

DISTRIBUTION.—Southern Burma to the western Moluccas (Figure 2).

HABITAT.—In primary or secondary forests in ravines or damp places. It rarely occurs over 1500 m but has been reported at “7000 feet” (over 2000 m) on Mt. Kinabalu (Clemens 40985).

FLOWERING TIME.—Essentially nonseasonal.

LOCAL NAMES.—Only one name has been recorded more than twice, “Lempoei” on three different plants cultivated at Bogor and its probable variant, “Lempoeng.” Although the language involved is Sundanese, “lempung” or “lempong” means “light or soft wood” in Indonesian and Malayan and may be more of an adjective than a name.

The existence of a specimen of Aglaonema simplex in the Linnaean herbarium, identified by Linnaeus (presumably) as Arum ovatum, opened the question of whether it typified the Linnaean binomial. Linnaeus (1753, p. 967) defined Arum ovatum, “Arum acaule, foliis ovato-oblongis,” and cited “Karinpola. Rheed. mal. 11. p. 45. t. 23. Habitat in India.” Rheede’s (1692) plate of “Karinpola” is clearly Lagenandra ovata (L.) Thwaites. The specimen of Aglaonema in the Linnaean herbarium is devoid of any information except for being noted as “ovatum.” In view of this it seems clear that Linnaeus placed primary, if not total, emphasis on the information in Rheede. This contention is supported by the fact that the specimen of Aglaonema, although broken off near the leaves, is clearly caulescent and thus does not fit the critical phrase name of Linnaeus. Therefore, the Linnaean specimen of Aglaonema, referred to Arum ovatum by Linnaeus, should not be considered to typify the Linnaean binomial.

Aglaonema simplex Blume is the most variable species in the genus. On the fringes of its distribution it tends to intergrade, to some extent, with other species. These complexities have led taxonomists to segregate many taxa within the complex and thereby obscure the relatively distinctive characteristics of Aglaonema simplex, sensu lato: strong venation, short petiole (rarely over 12 cm, i.e., one-half as long as the blade), short peduncles (rarely over 9 cm), usually more than 20 pistils, stipitate spadix, and spadix equaling the spathe.

Within the species it is tempting to segregate the specimens into three groups: (1) narrow-leaved, (2) broad-leaved, and (3) intermediate. The narrow-leaved plants might be defined as having the leaf-blade 7–11 times longer than broad and 1.3–4 cm wide. Roughly speaking, the following taxa would fit this category: A. angustifolium, A. angustifolium var. undulatum, A. schottianum var. brownii, and their isonyms. The broad-leaved plants might be described as having the blade 1.4–2.5 times longer than broad and 8–25 cm wide and would certainly include A. nicobaricum, A. borneense, A. emarginatum, A. grande, A. latius, and probably also A. nieuwenhuisii and A. subarborescens. The intermediate plants have the leaf-blade 2.6–6.9 times longer than broad and (4) 5–9 (11) cm wide and include A. simplex, A. schottianum, A. propinquum, A. malaccense, and probably A. schottianum var. winkleri, A. elongatum, and A. brevivaginatum (the latter three might be placed among the narrow-leaved plants if the definitions were changed slightly). Simultaneous comparison of the types of these taxa with the specimens cited herein indicates that these taxa are parts of a spectrum, not district entities. I have tried grouping the specimens along the lines suggested above and also by geographical areas, and have found no evidence of a correlation of geographical areas with the morphological groups. Therefore, I have not recognized any of these taxa, even at the form level.

Among the previously proposed taxa, two, though intergrading into the more usual forms through specimens from the same or other areas, do represent extremes. One is A. nieuwenhuisii from central Kalimantan, which represents A. simplex in its smallest aspect (leaf-blades only 12 cm long). The other is A. subarborescens from central Sumatra, which represents A. simplex in its largest aspect (leaves up to 35 cm long and 24 cm across). Other collections from the same areas indicate that these specimens represent only extreme individuals.

There are two areas where A. simplex appears to hybridize or intergrade with other species: Burma and Thailand, where it reaches the northwestern limit of its range, and the Philippines and Celebes, where it reaches the eastern limit of its range.

In Burma and western Thailand the occurrence of subsessile spadices (for example, on the single stem of Kostermans 359 there is both flowering material with a clear stipe and fruiting material that shows no evidence of a stipe although the stipe is normally longest in fruiting material) and the vegetative variability of A. simplex make it difficult to be certain about determinations. It seems quite possible that the northernmost species with sessile spadices, A. hookerianum, A. ovatum, and A. modestum, as a group, are most closely related to A. simplex and/or A. tenuipes.

In the Philippines and Celebes it is quite possible that A. simplex, along with A. nitidum and A. marantifolium, contributed or contributes to the variability found there. I have no other explanation for why the distinctive characteristic-combinations defining these three species, while remaining valid elsewhere, seem to break down in the Philippines and Celebes. Unlike the other two species, A. simplex does occur in the Philippines (A. nitidum does reach Balabac Island, but it is only 60 miles from the Bornean coast).

The type of A. schottianum Miquel is: Java, Blambangan, Horsfield s.n. (holotype: K; isotype: BM). The holotype, annotated by Miquel, does not bear the original field labels but only information written in what I presume to be Miquel’s hand. The isotype bears only field labels in Horsfield’s hand. There is another Horsfield specimen at Kew that may be type material; however, Horsfield labelled it as “Arum” while he labelled the isotype as “Pothos.”

In the original description of Aglaonema schottianum, Miquel stated that it was close to A. simplex. Miquel’s (1856) descriptions of A. simplex and A. schottianum are not mutually exclusive. The only real distinction that Miquel seemed to make was that the stipe was short “circiter 1½ lin.” in A. schottianum but was “longuisculus” in A. simplex. Miquel had a keen eye to segregate a new species on the basis of a stipe 0.32 cm long instead of 0.4 cm or more as described and illustrated by Blume for A. simplex.

A review of the history of A. schottianum is necessary since its diagnostic characters changed as different authors sought other characters with which to separate this species from A. simplex. Schott (1860) says that he had not only seen dried material but also living material although he did not have colored plates prepared of the living material as he usually did. Schott first added a description of the spathe (note: Miquel’s types are in fruit and lack spathe material), apparently basing it on Spanoghe material, which, although it is not cited by Schott, is in Schott’s herbarium as a tracing annotated as A. schottianum. Schott noted that the spadix was about 1.5 inches (“subsesquipollicaris”) long and slightly shorter than the spathe. At the same time, he noted that the spadix of A. simplex was finally almost longer than the spathe (“tandem fere spatha longior”). At this point it must be noted that the spathe/spadix ratio in A. simplex is virtually 1:1. In bud the spadix is shorter than the spathe, or in flower the spadix may equal or occasionally exceed the spathe but never by a significant margin. Indeed, I suspect that distortions introduced by pressing may affect whether or not the spadix is longer than or slightly shorter than the spathe when the original material actually indicated that the spadix equalled the spathe.

Engler (1879), apparently wishing to follow Schott in maintaining A. schottianum, introduced some errors. The most serious error was reversing the one character that Miquel had used in segregating A. schottianum from A. simplex. According to Engler, A. simplex has a short stipe (“breviter stipitati”) while A. schottianum has a long stipe (“longe stipitati”). Another error introduced by Engler was that he described the spadix as 1.5 cm long. Apparently he meant 4 cm but forgot to change inches to centimeters in translating from Schott’s “subsesquipollicaris.” Curiously, Engler (1879) included two of the same specimens under both A. simplex and A. schottianum, including a syntype of A. simplex. The syntype of A. simplex is cited under A. simplex as “Kapandangan” and under A. schottianum as “Kapangdungor.” The other specimen is Zollinger 695B, which was correctly cited under A. schottianum but incompletely cited under A. simplex as “Zollinger 695.” Up to that time, no one had found anything significantly different between A. schottianum and A. simplex.

In a later publication, Engler (1915) maintained his earlier findings but introduced a series of new collections. New Malayan specimens were cited under A. schottianum although the type of this species was from the farthest eastern tip of Java and new Javanese specimens were cited under A. simplex. Ridley (1925), following these identifications, did not question whether or not A. simplex occurred in Malaya but simply accepted the name A. schottianum. Gagnepain (1942) included both species in Indochina, placing them together as not having the spadix surpassing the spathe and differing only in their leaf bases. Bakhuizen van den Brink (1957) was the first to identify A. schottianum with A. simplex in his treatment of Araceae of Java. I entirely concur with this disposition.

The type of A. malaccense is: [Malaya, Malacca] Pulo Bissar [Pulau Besar], Griffith, E. India Co. 5985 (lectotype: K). Although Schott originally (1859) cited only “Malacca, Griffith,” without citing a number or otherwise clearly designating a holotype, he did a year later (1860, p. 302) add the notation “v. s. in Herb. Hook.” There are two Griffith specimens from Malacca at Kew, one of which fits Schott’s description better than the other. This I have selected as lectotype because Schott described the leaf-base as obtuse to very obtuse; the leaf-bases on Griffith, E. India Co. 5984 (K) are subcordate and highly unequal. Also, Schott (1860) described the leaf-blade as 2.5–3 inches wide; Griffith, E. India Co. 5984 has leaves fully 4 inches wide.

A specimen at Kew (McClelland s.n., Burma, Phangrun Valley, Pegu ad Rangoon, 10 February) has been annotated by N. E. Brown as follows: “This is probably the type [of A. malaccense] rather than Griffith’s specimens, as the spathe and berries are undescribed.” Since Schott, in his original (1859) and a subsequent (1860) description, cited only Griffith’s material from Malacca, however, I have typified his A. malaccense on the Griffith material. The Schott descriptions support this typification since Schott (1859) described the leaf apices as acuminate to cuspidate, whereas they are merely tapered in McClelland’s material, and in 1860 he described the petiole as 3.5–4 inches long, whereas one of the most conspicuous petioles on the McCelland specimen is fully 5.5 inches long.

The type of Aglaonema longicuspidatum is: Indonesia, Borneo, Bangarmassing, 1857–8, Motley 876 (holotype: K). Study of Schott’s descriptions indicates that the most distinctive features of the type are the long-cuspidate apex and the undulate margin of some of the leaves. Actually, the leaf apices are gradually long-acuminate, something which is frequently found, especially in the narrower-leaved A. simplex. The undulate margin appears to be nothing but an artifact of pressing, particularly since only two of the four leaves on the type show this characteristic. Engler (1879, p. 440) reduced A. longicuspidatum to synonymy of A. simplex.

The type of Aglaonema propinquum is: Indonesia, Borneo, Korthals s.n. (lectotype: L–898, 87–85). There are three duplicates in the Leiden herbarium, all annotated by Schott as A. propinquum. The lectotype was designed on the basis that it is represented by a tracing in the Schottian herbarium (Schott, Aroideae 79). Schott (1864) noted that this material was close to A. malaccense and A. longicuspidatum, both of which are synonyms of A. simplex. Engler (1879, p. 440) made A. propinquum a synonym of A. schottianum, which in turn I consider synonymous with A. simplex.

Aglaonema fallax Schott ex Engler (1879, p. 439) was published only as a synonym of A. simplex. Color drawings in Schott’s herbarium (Schott, Aroideae 43 and 44), presumably prepared from cultivated material, indicate that its placement here is entirely correct.

The type of Aglaonema birmanicum is: Birma [sic], toward Nempean, low woods, Griffith, E. India Co. 5981 (holotype: K). This locality is unknown to me although Hooker (1893) cites it as from “Upper Burma.” The type and associated collections from Burma and western Thailand frequently have very short to obscure stipes. This occasionally happens throughout the range of A. simplex (Scheepmaker s.n. from Java has a stipe 0.2–0.5 cm long; Rahmat si Toroes 4609 from Sumatra has stipes 0.3–0.6 cm long; several specimens from Borneo and Celebes have stipes 0.3 cm long). The fact, however, that all the Burmese specimens have short stipes (except Helfer 5992 from Tenasserim and McClelland s.n. from Pegu, both of which have stipes 0.4 cm long) suggests that A. birmanicum is not a distinct species but some sort of integradation between A. simplex and a species with sessile spadices, possibly A. ovatum. The short peduncles preclude its being identified with A. hookerianum.

The type of Aglaonema nicobaricum is: India, Nicobars, 23 November 1884, King’s Collector 537 (lectotype: K; isolectotype: BM, CAL). King’s Collector 537 is selected as lectotype since the description of the spathe was obviously made from it and another collection for the Nicobars, Kurz s.n. (February 1875), lacks the spathe. In fruiting material the spathe is decurrent for 0.5 cm and the stipe is 0.7 cm long. Other specimens with leaves 1.5–2.5 times longer than broad are scattered throughout the range of A. simplex: Burma-Meebold 15467; Thailand-Kostermans 359; Sumatra-Henderson SFN 20122, Biinnemeijer 4311, Meijer 5645; Borneo-Brooke 10700, Nicolson 1306; Celebes-Elbert 3169. I have been unable to find any other distinguishing morphological characters that correlate with the broad leaves, and it is clearly impossible to draw an arbitrary line based solely on leaf width because the specimens, in toto, simply form a spectrum of leaf widths from 1.5–11 times longer than broad. Therefore, I am not even accepting any subspecific taxa based solely on leaf width. If later workers wish to do so, A. nicobaricum is the oldest specific epithet applicable to the broad-leaved specimens of the Aglaonema simplex complex.

The type of Aglaonema angustifolium N. E. Brown is: Great Britain, Kew Gardens, “Aroid from Pankore. Received from Mr. Curtis in 1893,” 23 November 1894 [N. E. Brown?] (lectotype: K). The lectotype has some of the narrowest leaves in Aglaonema simplex, ten times longer than broad; however, the distinctiveness of this character begins to fade when one finds that the leaves of the syntype are only seven times longer than broad. Later collections from the type-locality (Burkill 186 and 187, from South Pangkore Forest Reserve) show even more variation in adjacent plants. Burkill 187 can be indentified with the lectotype as the leaves are over eight times longer than broad. Burkill 186 has leaves only 4.3–4.6 longer than broad and is noted: “Seems to be an age form of specimen HMB 187. Both plants were growing adjacent.” It is probable that Burkill, aware that he was in a variable population, collected extremes to demonstrate the range of variability. I strongly suspect he could also have collected intermediates. Intermediates certainly are known as Engler (1915, p. 20) pointed out when he reduced Aglaonema angustifolium to the rank of a forma. Curtis 3820 (SING) from Wellesley has narrow leaves at the base up to 9.5 times longer than broad and upper leaves only 4.1 times longer than broad, clear evidence that the width of the leaves can be variable on the same plant. Equally narrow-leaved specimens have been collected in Borneo: (1) Amjah 90, (2) material in cultivation from Borneo named A. elongatum Alderwerelt, (3) material called A. schottianum var. winkleri Engler. There is no reason to believe that intergradations do not also occur here. Despite the striking aspect of individual narrow-leaved specimens, we seem to be dealing with something that is transient or a spectrum, not with a distinct taxon. Therefore, I am following Bakhuizen van den Brink (1957, p. 35) in completely synonymizing A. angustifolium with A. simplex.

Aglaonema simplex f. macrophyllum (Engler, 1898, p. 21), although a nomen nudum, can be associated with a preserved specimen (Koorders 16179 [BO] from Tatokok, Celebes) and thus assigned to synonymy with A. simplex. When Engler first used the name (without description), he cited five specimens, Koorders 16126, 16129, 16155, and 16179 from Minhassa, Celebes, and Warburg 14984 from Jolo, Philippines. The last-mentioned specimen, presumably formerly at Berlin, is no longer extant. Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh (1922, p. 323) undertook a discussion of some of the specimens of A. simplex f. macrophyllum at Bogor and stated that the petioles were 17.5–25 cm long. This at first appears to be a validating description for Engler’s name, but van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh went on to indicate that the material from which these measurements were taken actually belonged to another species, A. oblongifolium [A. philippinense herein]. He cited only Koorders 16126, 16129, and 16155 and stated that at Bogor there was no material of Koorders 16129. The other two specimens agreed “in [his] opinion more with A. oblongifolium than with A. simplex.” Since the one other specimen cited by Engler that was available to van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh at Bogor, Koorders 16179, was not mentioned and (by my own measurements) has petioles only 9–13 cm long, it is apparent that he was not discussing or describing the taxon, but only the specimens that he was excluding. Association with Koorders 16179 holds this name to the species in which it used by Engler and discussed by van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh.

Although Ridley accepted the taxon Aglaonema angustifolium N. E. Brown in his works on the flora of the Malay peninsula (1907, 1925), he felt it necessary to distinguish the typical element described by Brown as A. angustifolium var. undulatum. His reasoning was that “the type-plant described by Brown was the very local form var. undulatum. The leaves of young plants of typical [i.e., common] A. angustifolium are almost black.” This action resulted in his application of the name A. angustifolium to a taxon considered different from that represented by the type on which it was based and in the renaming of the typical element. This is, of course, inadmissible. Aglaonema angustifolium var. undulatum Ridley is a synonym both nomenclaturally and taxonomically of A. angustifolium N. E. Brown. The undulate margins occur in A. simplex in other localities.

The holotype of Aglaonema borneense is: Hort. Buitenzorg, January-February 1906, Engler, Reise nach Java und Brit. Indien 4089 (B). According to Engler (1915), this material came from Borneo. The specimen has two detached leaves, one 7 cm wide and one 12 cm wide. The smaller leaf appears to be very thin and probably is immature. Since the larger leaf agrees very closely in all respects with Nicolson 1306 and Brooke 10700 from Sarawak, there is no reason to doubt the Bornean origin. The only deterrent in recognizing this as a broad-leaved specimen of A. simplex is that the spadix appears to be fully 1.5 cm short of the spathe apex. The spadix, however, has been sliced longitudinally and, since the cut was diagonal, it appears that a substantial portion was taken from the apex of the spadix. Engler indicated that his taxon was most closely related to A. siamense [A. tenuipes herein], but this is not supported by the spathe length in the two taxa (less than 2.5 cm in A. tenuipes, 5 cm in A. borneense). The species appears to be no more than another broad-leaved A. simplex, similar to that which was earlier described as A. nicobaricum.

Aglaonema schottianum var. genuinum f. angustifolium (N. E. Brown) Engler is a change in rank of A. angustifolium N. E. Brown. Engler cites only the syntype, Scortechini s.n. There is no significant morphological difference between the types of A. schottianum var. genuinum f. angustifolium and A. schottianum var. brownii Engler (their types are even almost topotypes). Furtado (1937, p. 243) discussed this involved nomenclatural problem.

The type of Aglaonema schottianum var. brownii is: Perak, Dindings, Lumut, April 1898, Ridley 9508 (lectotype: SING; isolectotypes: CAL, K); Perak, Dindings, Lumut, February 1899, Ridley 10144 (syntypes: CAL, SING). Engler actually cited Prain as a parenthetical author (Engler’s types are determined [in Ridley’s hand] as Aglaonema brownii Prain). Prain was interested in Araceae and published several new species of Typhonium but never published anything on Aglaonema. Examination of the lectotype and syntype collections of A. schottianum var. brownii reveal them to be scarcely distinguishable from the type of N. E. Brown’s A. angustifolium. The leaves are light green, extremely narrow, and the margins are crispulate.

Aglaonema schottianum var. malaccense is a change in rank of A. malaccense Schott. Engler does not cite Schott’s types but his description of the leaves as being only three times longer than broad fits the types.

The type of Aglaonema schottianum var. winkleri is: Sudost-Borneo, zwischen M. Uja and Kundimbaru, July 1908, Winkler 2727 (TBG or HBG). Unfortunately, I have not seen the type, but there is no reason to think that it does not exist. I have interpreted it on the basis of the illustration published by Engler (1915). As described and illustrated by Engler, this specimen with narrowly oblong leaves looks very much like A. propinquum Schott, which Engler places as a synonym of A. schottianum. The leaves, however, are slightly narrower, 4.5–5 cm wide instead of 5–7 cm wide. I see no reason to maintain this variety, especially when it seems possible that narrow leaves can be transient (see discussion under A. angustifolium).

The type of Aglaonema brevivaginatum is: Lingga Archipel, P. Lingga, Kp. Panggak, 60 m, 27 July 1919, Bunnemeijer 7044 (holotype: BO-100314; isotypes: BO–100315, L–922,297–1858). This material appears to be no more than a rather small Aglaonema simplex. As the specific epithet implies, the petiolar sheath is very short, “½–1 (raro 1½–2) cm longa.” On one isotype (L) I found a sheath 2.5 cm long, almost half the petiole length. Although short sheaths are not common in A. simplex, the sheath length is exceedingly variable, even on the same specimen, and it is impossible to segregate taxa on this characteristic alone. The following specimens also have sheaths less than 2 cm long: Jelinek 32 from Nicobar and Nicolson 1115 from Singapore.

The holotype of Aglaonema elongatum is: Cult. in Hort. Bog. as IX. 61 (Borneo) [March 1921 – fide description], van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh 355 (BO). In the original description it was reported that the plant had been collected on Mt. Tenampak in eastern Borneo by Amjah, a collector on Capt. van Genderen Stort’s North Borneo Boundary Commission. The living plant is no longer at Bogor. The description reported the leaves five to seven times longer than broad and that the plant was nearest to Aglaonema schottianum, but unfortunately, nothing was mentioned about what made it different from A. schottianum. The leaves seem to be dark green, narrow, smooth margined, and gradually long-acuminate or tapered like the material that Ridley (1907, 1925) regarded as the most “typical” [i.e., common] form of Aglaonema angustifolium. As pointed out in the discussion of that synonym, however, the narrowness of leaves does not furnish enough evidence to warrant recognition of taxa.

The holotype of Aglaonema emarginatum is: Eiland Sebesi, 100 m, 29 April 1921, Docters van Leeuwen 5412 (BO). The author gives no clue as to what species this specimen might be related nor how it is differentiated from other species. The leaves are “16–23 × 8–11 cm.,” and thus clearly identical in size with those of Aglaonema nicobaricum.

The holotype of Aglaonema grande is: Cult. in Hort. Bot. Bog. XI. B. IX. 62, [March 1921 – fide description] van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh 361 (BO). According to the description, the living plant was collected in Borneo as Nieuwenhuis 863. I have not seen a specimen with this number collected by Nieuwenhuis or by any of the collectors who accompanied him: Amdjah, Hallier, Jaheri, Molengraff, or Sekarang. The author gives no clue, except the specific epithet, as to what distinguishes this taxon or its relatives. The type appears to be nothing but another broad-leaved Aglaonema simplex, this time with leaves “25–35 × 11.5–15 cm.” It is larger, to be sure, than the large-leaved plants described as Aglaonema nicobaricum and A. emarginatum but that is hardly sufficient reason to maintain it, even at a subspecific level.

The type of Aglaonema latius is: Eil. Simaloer. 29 March 1919, Achmad 1009 (lectotype: BO-100331; isolectotypes: BO–100332, L–992, 297–539); Eil. Simaloer, 12 June 1918, Achmad 487 (syntypes: BO, L, U). I have designated Achmad 1009 as lectotype since it has the widest leaves. Judging by the epithet, the author was emphasizing leaf width; in his description he states that the leaves are 10.5 cm wide. The leaves on Achmad 487 are less than 10 cm wide but they are occasionally 10.5 cm wide on Achmad 1009. The author gives no clue as to related species. It seems clear, however, that the specimens represent another broad-leaved Aglaonema simplex, this time a bit smaller than the material described as Aglaonema nicobaricum, A. emarginatum, and A. grande but hardly warranting recognition as a distinct taxon. Even the author suggested that leaf width may not be very significant when he described the leaves as sometimes three times longer than broad.

The holotype of Aglaonema nieuwenhuisii is: Borneo, Soengei Bloe-oe [tributatry of Mahakan River], 1896–7, Jaheri, Exp. Nieuwenhuis 673 (BO). Engler (1915) cited this collection as Aglaonema minus Hooker f., having longer petioles, the petiolar sheath more than 0.5 the petiole length, and a longer leaf blade. This is true. The only question is whether it should be recognized as a taxon within A. simplex. The main characteristic is that the leaves are very small, “9–12 × 4½–6 cm.” Recently the Bailey Hortorium received photographs and a cutting of a similar plant collected in southeastern North Borneo by L. Maurice Mason. Considering the variability known to exist in Aglaonema simplex, I have decided not to recognize what amounts to a group defined merely as ‘“plants small.”

The holotype of Aglaonema simplex f. inaequale is: Lingga Archipel, P. Singkep, Weg Manggoe, 50 m, Bosch, 2 August 1919, Bünnemeijer 7189 (BO). In the original publication this collection was erroneously cited as Bünnemeijer 7180. 1 have no record of Bünnemeijer 7180 but Bünnemeijer 7189 is annotated by van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh as Aglaonema simplex f. inaequale and bears the field note “Bloeikolf wit. Bloeischeede licht groen,” which must be the basis of the part of the description reading “Spatha pallide viridis. Spadix albus.” This taxon is not worthy of recognition. Leaves of most Aglaonema are unequal to a greater or lesser degree.

The type of Aglaonema subarborescens is: Sum[atra], W[ester] K[ust], G. Malintang, 1100 m, Bosch bij rivier, 5 August 1918, Bünnemeijer 4311 (lectotype: BO-100506; isolectotypes: BO-100507–100508, L); Sum[atra] W[ester] K[ust], G. Sago, 1150 m, Bosch rand, 7 August 1918, Bünnemeijer 4351 (syntype: BO). I have designated Bünnemeijer 4311 (BO-100506) as lectotype since it has the largest leaves, 32.5 cm long and fully 24 cm wide. This exceptionally large size is approached in the genus only by Aglaonema densinervium, which differs in having the spadix over 1.5 cm short of the spathe apex. In all characters this material resembles Aglaonema simplex. Other collections from the same general locality, Bünnemeijer 3631 (which was determined by van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh as A. simplex), Bünnemeijer 4311, and Meijer 5645 clearly indicate that the lectotype is, at best, only an extreme individual. It is desirable to be aware of these extremes, but I feel that formal recognition of them, even at an infraspecific level, will lead to confusion in such a variable species as Aglaonema simplex.

Aglaonema alpinum Elmer (1938, p. 3611) is based on: Philippines, Sorsogon, Irosin, Mt. Bulusan [3000 ft, wet humus-covered stony soil of densely wooded flats - fide description], July 1916, Elmer 16520 (BO, CAL, GH, NY). Of the four duplicates of the type-collection known to me, only one (GH) has leaves 5.5 cm wide as described by Elmer. This binomial is invalid under Article 36 (ICBN, 1966) since it was published without a Latin description. The material falls nicely into Aglaonema simplex with its short peduncles, short petioles, and nonvariegated leaves. Unfortunately, most of the Philippine collections of what I regard to be Aglaonema simplex are in fruit, and it is difficult to be certain whether or not the spadix equals the spathe as it should in A. simplex. The only flowering material is Zwickey 349 (GH) from Lanao. In two rather immature inflorescences the spathe seems to exceed the spadix by more than one centimeter but a third, rather passé, inflorescence appears to have the spadix equaling the spathe.
bibliographic citation
Nicolson, Dan H. 1969. "A revision of the Genus Aglaonema (Araceae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Botany. 1-69. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.0081024X.1

Comprehensive Description

provided by Smithsonian Contributions to Botany
Aglaonema tenuipes

Aglaonema tenuipes Engler, 1902, p. 275.

A. siamense Engler, 1902, p. 275.

A. pierreanum Engler, 1915, p. 24, fig. 8.

A. subfalcatum Engler, 1915, p. 23.

Stem erect, 40–150 cm tall, 0.6–2.5 cm thick. Internodes 0.5–2.0 cm long. Petioles (5) 7–17 (22) cm long, 0.5–0.8 times as long as the leaf-blade. Sheaths membraneous, (2.5) 5–8 (15) cm long, (0.4) 0.5–0.7 (0.8) times as long as the petiole. Leaf-blades ovate or elliptic to lanceolate, frequently unequal or falcate, (6) 15–25 (35) cm long, (2.4) 5–13 (21) cm wide, length/width ratio 1:(1.7)2.3–3.2(6.7); base truncate to subacute, commonly rounded, sometimes unequal; apex usually gradually acuminate, sometimes acute or acuminate; variegation none; venation strongly (sometimes weakly) differentiated into 4–8 primary lateral veins diverging from the midrib at (30°) 40°–50° (60°); texture membranaceous to subcoriaceous. Peduncles 1–5 together, 2.5–8.0 (13) cm long, deflexing in fruit. Spathe green, 1.8–2.5 (4 in Kerr 7010) cm long, to 3 cm wide, often apiculate, decurrent for 0.3–1.0 cm. Stipe 0.2–1.0 cm long. Spadix short-cylindric to subclavate, often slightly exceeding the spathe, 1.4–2.5 cm long; pistillate portion 0.2–0.7 cm long, pistils 16–19 or more (only 3 in Kerr 19940); staminate portion white, sometimes separated from pistillate portion by small gap (as in Kerr 3005), 0.7–2.9 cm long, 0.3–0.8 cm thick. Fruits turning red, 1.5 cm long and 0.8 cm thick.

TYPE COLLECTION.—Thailand, Koh Chang, Klong Munsé, 8 February 1900, Schmidt 451a (holotype: C).

DISTRIBUTION.—Southern continental Southeast Asia from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to peninsular Thailand (Figure 6).

HABITAT.—In evergreen forest up to 1000 m in damp areas.

FLOWERING TIME.—February–April.

The type of Aglaonema siamense is: Thailand, Koh Chang, Skoven n. f. Lem Dan, 6 January 1900, Schmidt 90 (holotype: C; isotype: B). Engler (1902, p. 275) erred in describing the leaves as 2.5 cm wide, implying a length/width ratio of 1:8–10. In the type collection the leaves are 8.5 cm wide with a length/width ratio of 1:2.7.

The types of Aglaonema siamense and A. tenuipes were taken from the same general locality (within three miles of each other). In the original publication both were cited as being from “jungle near Lem Dan.” The differences in their reproductive structures are largely explicable in terms of their difference in developmental stages, A. siamense being in ripe fruit and A. tenuipes being in bud. Vegetatively they differ principally in: (1) leaf shape (A. siamense having leaves with a length/width ratio of 1:2.5–2.9, and a truncate base; A. tenuipes having leaves with a length/width ratio 1:3.0–3.4, and an obtuse leaf base); and (2) petiolar sheath length (A. siamense having the sheath 8 to 10 cm long [about 0.7 the petiole length] and A. tenuipes having the sheath 3 to 4 cm long [about 0.4 the petiole length]). Neither difference is significant. Leaf shape appears to be variable in the pertinent plants of Aglaonema from Koh Chang. Flowering material (Kerr 6799) from Klong Mayon on Koh Chang (about one mile from Klong Munsé) includes duplicates that vary in their length/width ratio from 1:2.4–4.0. Length of petiolar sheath also seems to be rather variable. Nicolson 1616 has (from type-locality) petiolar sheaths 6–7 cm long, almost halfway between those described for A. siamense and A. tenuipes.

Gagnepain (1942) described the spathe of A. siamense as 3.5–4.5 cm long. Study of specimens cited shows that this excessively long spathe is based on Kerr 20899 from Laos, which I identify as A. ovatum.

I see no reason to maintain A. siamense and A. tenuipes as sympatric species. Both epithets have equal priority. No one previously has united them. I am adopting the name A. tenuipes since it is based on flowering material more easily identifiable with other specimens than the fruiting specimens typifying A. siamense.

The types of A. pierreanum are: Cochinchina, 500 m, June 1877, Pierre s.n. (lectotype: P); Bienhoa, March 1877, Harmand, Herb. Pierre 1936 (syntype: B). The many Pierre specimens of A. tenuipes are mostly incompletely labelled and many have been determined by Engler as A. pierreanum. In choosing a lectotype, one can consider only material actually cited in the description, restricting the choice to the two cited above. I have chosen the first specimen as lectotype since it has flowering material that is necessary to recognize A. tenuipes definitely. One reason for not selecting the second specimen is that the description depicted the leaves as being 6–8 cm wide whereas the leaves on the second specimen are only 4.5 cm wide. Engler (1915) regarded A. pierreanum as distinct from A. tenuipes. He placed A. pierreanum in his key as having the primary veins more or less incised above and highly prominent below, while he placed A. tenuipes among the species with primary veins slightly stronger than the secondary veins. Reliance on venation alone and without further supporting characters is not justified since individual specimens show much variation. Aglaonema tenuipes generally has rather strongly differentiated venation but occasionally this is not the case. I believe this to be more environmentally than genetically determined.

The type of A. subfalcatum is: France, Paris, Jardin des Plantes, without collector s.n. (holotype: B). This species, represented only by the type collection taken from cultivated material probably originating from South Vietnam (fide Engler, 1915), was placed next to A. pierreanum Engler. The difference between these two species, published simultaneously, was that A. pierreanum was supposed to have a cordate leaf base and A. subfalcatum an acute or rounded one. This distinction does not exist on the types. In the description of A. pierreanum, Engler was much more accurate when he described the leaf base as “emarginata vel subcordata.” In the published illustration of A. pierreanum the leaf bases are only rounded, definitely not cordate.

Gagnepain (1942) separated A. pierreanum from A. subfalcatum, A. siamense, and A. tenuipes on the erroneous assumption that the spadix did not surpass the spathe in A. siamense, A. subfalcatum, and A. tenuipes. This distinction is not borne out by the types of A. subfalcatum and A. siamense, in which the spadix clearly surpasses the spathe although it appears to be true in the type of A. tenuipes. The fact, however, that the spathe is closed and that the peduncle is so short indicates that the type of A. tenuipes is in bud and that the stipe and spadix may not have fully elongated.

Gagnepain (1942) regarded A. tenuipes as most closely related to A. subfalcatum since both had more or less acute leaf bases, the main difference being that A. subfalcatum had an oblique leaf base and A. tenuipes did not. It seems to me that the vegetative dissimilarities emphasized by Engler and Gagnepain are outweighed by the reproductive similarities. Therefore, I reduce all three binomials to A. tenuipes.

The following variations are of note since they represent extremes of morphological variation within A. tenuipes. I have not accorded them formal taxonomic recognition since intermediates were frequent and widely scattered. Nicolson 1625 and 1638 have some of the broadest leaves observed in the species, 15–20 cm wide with length/width ratios less than 1:2. Evrard 478 has the narrowest leaves observed in the species, to 2.6 cm wide with length/width ratio up to 1:6.7. A number of plants seem to be rather smaller than usual for the species: Kerr 10765, Put 1444, Kiah, SFN 35244, Put 1615, Rock 499, Pierre s.n. (24 February 1877), and Put s.n. (20 June 1926.) One specimen (Kerr 19440) seems quite anomalous in that it has only three pistils in the one inflorescence I studied.

Aglaonema tenuipes obviously is closely related to A. simplex but may intergrade with A. ovatum. At times the stipe seems very short (approaching that of A. ovatum). There is a possibility that A. tenuipes is only a geographical subspecies of A. simplex. These species are separable only when the spathe is present. Fruiting material has been identified from geographical evidence; for instance, all flowering material from Koh Chang has the short spathe and blunt spadix of A. tenuipes; the type of A. siamense is from Koh Chang but is in fruit, and so I have made the assumption that A. siamense has the A. tenuipes type of inflorescence. Because of the doubt surrounding each fruiting specimen, I cannot be certain what actually are the ranges of A. simplex and A. tenuipes. I therefore hesitate to make further taxonomic reductions.
bibliographic citation
Nicolson, Dan H. 1969. "A revision of the Genus Aglaonema (Araceae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Botany. 1-69. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.0081024X.1

Aglaonema simplex

provided by wikipedia EN

Aglaonema simplex, also known as the Malayan sword (Indonesian: kering, Javanese: wetune, Malay: penggeheh, Chinese: 常青粗肋草) is a perennial[3] species of flowering plant in the family Araceae.[4] It is native to Southeast Asia.[5][1]


The specific epithet simplex derives from the Latin word for "single", referring to the fact that the species is single-stemmed.[5]



The Malayan sword is a shrubby plant that grows to about 0.2 to 1.2 m (7.9 in to 3 ft 11.2 in) tall with straight stems. Its dark-green leaves are arranged spirally. The leaves are oval-shaped, with a length between 10 – 35 cm and a width between 1.9 – 25 cm, and sunken veins. The fruits are red and ovoid. The seeds are possibly dispersed by mammals and birds.[5][6]

Its flowers are enclosed in a very greenish-white leaf. They are also a monoecious species. They are pollinated by carrion insects.[5]

This species grows relatively slowly. They are suited to moist, well-drained soil although they are tolerant to waterlogging. They prefer to be situated in shaded areas. In addition, they can be propagated with cuttings. They begin to flower between late summer and early autumn.[5][7][3]

This species contains 20 chromosomes. It also has a high amount of variation, with some individuals having narrow leaves, while others have broad leaves.[8]


This flower is usually found wet tropical and sub-tropical forests and freshwater swamps in Bangladesh, Yunnan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.[2] They can be found at elevations between 0 - 1500m.[1][5][6]


The Aglaonema simplex is listed as least concern by the IUCN. While this species is abundant, its native habitat is threatened by deforestation for wood harvesting and wood plantations.[1]



This species is used in horticulture for the aquarium trade.[1]

Due to its slow-growing nature, bushy appearance and its ability to filter air, they are popular as a houseplant and are commercially sold.[5][7]


The leaves of the Aglaonema simplex are pounded in coconut oil to be rubbed on the bodies on pregnant women going through labour in order to hasten delivery and reduce childbirth pain.

In addition, a decoction made from the roots of this plant is used to treat edemas and fever.[5][9]

In the leaves and stems of Aglaonema simplex, five different photocytotoxic pheophorbide-related compounds are present. Due to the way that they interact with human leukaemia cells, they have been proposed as a potential treatment for tumour cells.[10]


Like all Aglaonema species, Aglaonema simplex contains poisonous calcium oxalate crystals, which act as an irritant.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Allen, D.J. (2011). "Aglaonema simplex". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2011: e.T194792A8902274. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  2. ^ a b "Aglaonema simplex (Blume) Blume". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  3. ^ a b c "Plant database entry for Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema simplex) with one image and 24 data details". garden.org. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  4. ^ "Aglaonema simplex | /RHS Gardening". www.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Aglaonema simplex (Blume) Blume". www.nparks.gov.sg. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  6. ^ a b "Aglaonema simplex in Flora of China @ efloras.org". www.efloras.org. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  7. ^ a b "Aglaonema Simplex". Metropolitan Wholesale. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  8. ^ Nicolson, DH (1969). "A Revision of the Genus Aglaonema" (PDF). Smithsonian Institution.
  9. ^ "Aglaonema simplex (PROSEA) - PlantUse English". uses.plantnet-project.org. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  10. ^ Chee, Chin-Fei; Lee, Hong Boon; Ong, Hean Chooi; Ho, Anthony Siong-Hock (December 2005). "Photocytotoxic Pheophorbide-Related Compounds from Aglaonema simplex". Chemistry & Biodiversity. 2 (12): 1648–1655. doi:10.1002/cbdv.200590134. ISSN 1612-1872. PMID 17191961. S2CID 41595009.
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Aglaonema simplex: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Aglaonema simplex, also known as the Malayan sword (Indonesian: kering, Javanese: wetune, Malay: penggeheh, Chinese: 常青粗肋草) is a perennial species of flowering plant in the family Araceae. It is native to Southeast Asia.

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wikipedia EN