Aroids, Articles

What are Aroids?

Aroids are among the most frequently grown plants in the world!

Aroid is the common term for approximately 3500+ accepted species divided into 125 genera all of which are members of the family Araceae. These numbers are updated regularly and botanists estimate the total number of anticipated species is closer to 8000! Popular genera include: Anthurium, Philodendron, Monstera, Aglaonema, Anubias, Alocasia, Colocasia, Epipremnum, Homalomena, Syngonium, Zantedeschia (Calla Lily), Dieffenbachia, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Amorphophallus, Zamioculcas (ZZ) and many more!

Aroids are commonly grown outdoors in tropical or subtropical climates, and/or grown indoors (most often in a controlled environment) to mimic natural habitat and growing conditions.

The beautiful and often bizarre combination of ornate foliage paired with the production of an inflorescence (known as a spathe and spadix) distinguishes an Aroid species.

Aroids are extremely varied in their habits and habitats. It is in terms of size where aroids truly stand out from all other plant families- not in the number of species but in their range of physical dimensions.

This unique plant family contains one of the largest flowering plants (Amorphophallus titanium, Titan arum) and the smallest (Wolffia, Duckweed)

In the rainforest, Aroids are in their element and at their most bountiful! These plants flourish in steamy lowlands all the way to the coolest heights of the cloud forest; in dense shade on the forest floor and along the bright forest margins and watercourses. Most species occur below 15ft, making the forest floor the richest level by far. 

Colours of these plants vary from diverse shades of green to bold bright hues, often with contrasting veining or different colours in newly emerging leaves and undersurfaces. Variegation is commonly present among aroids including the appearance of freckles, stripes, spots, patterns or randomly piebald. Textures of aroids are also full of surprises- anything from high gloss, leathery or velvet. Several aroids also exhibit a metallic or crystalline appearance.

The diversity of species within the rainforest is legendary, however, all rainforest species are becoming increasingly rare due to the destruction of natural habitats and wild poaching. Many aroids are almost or already extinct. While new species are being discovered every year, others are never found again and some disappear without ever having been seen by scientists.

The term Aroid may not yet be a household name, but the images of certain aroids are familiar to almost everyone. Perhaps most recognized are the large, heart-shaped, fenestrated (and sometimes variegated!) leaves belonging to Monstera deliciosa.