What is an Aroid?

Aroids are among the most frequently grown plants in the world! Aroid is the common name for approximately 3750 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 6500! Some of the more popular Aroids include Anthurium, Philodendron, Monstera, Aglaonema, Anubias, Alocasia, Colocasia, Epipremnum, Homalomena, Syngonium, Zantedeschia (Calla Lily), Dieffenbachia, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Amorphophallus, Zamioculcas (ZZ) and many more spectacular genera!

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 measurements.

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

Every extent of the rainforest contains aroids- though most species occur below 15ft, making the rainforest floor the richest level by far. In the rainforest, Aroids are in their element and at their most bountiful. They 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.

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 be a household word, but the images of certain aroids are familiar to almost everyone. Perhaps most recognized are the large heart-shaped fenestrated leaves belonging to Monstera deliciosa