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St. John US Virgin Islands Flora: Anthuriums (Araceae)
st john flora anthuriums

from NPS sign Reef Bay Trail
(Anthuriums) Arum Family

Anthuriums, like bromeliads, orchids and pinguins, are epiphytes, a nonparasitic plant that grows on another plant, but gets its nourishment from the air - thus, the name “air plant”.

Anthuriums can grow on the ground, on rocks, or up in trees. The local varieties are Anthurium cordatum (heartleaf), Anthurium crenatum (scrub brush) and a hybrid of these two.

st john flora: heart leaf anthurium
Heart Leaf Anthurium
st john flora: scrub brush anthurium
Scrub Brush Anthurium

The heartleaf is more common in moist forest areas. It produces beautiful foliage that sometimes is home for tree snails and nests of wasps called Jack Spaniards. The heartleaf anthurium produces a long pointy reddish-green stalk-like flower.

The scrub brush anthurium has long green leaves with seasonal red fruit. The dried dead leaves have been used in the past to scrub pots and pans. They are just as effective as the commercial pot scrubbing products used today, plus they have the advantage of being easily disposable, non-rusting and biodegradable.

st joh flora: anthurium flower
Heart Leaf Anthurium Flower
st john flora: anthurium fruit
Scrub Brush Anthurium Fruit

The heartleaf anthurium is common in the Lesser Antilles. The scrub brush anthurium is found in the Greater Antilles. They seem to have met on the islands of St. John and Tortola to produce a hybrid variety (anthurium selloum) which is only found on these two islands. It is sterile and cannot reproduce. The hybrid looks just like what you would expect a mixture of the two parent varieties to look like. See if you can identify one.