Syngonium podophyllum: Arrowhead plant

Family: Araceae
Common name: Arrowhead plant, Arrowhead vine, African evergreen, American evergreen, Nephthytis

Syngonium is native to the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, but is now grown in gardens all over the world. The name arrowhead plant comes from the spade-shaped leaves, that grow in a variety of colors and patterns. The plants can grow to a height of 1-1.5 meters and prefers climbing over other plants or structures.

Syngonium plants are fast growers, initially growing in a clump and then putting out vines that climb on other structures or crawl along the ground, growing roots along the nodes, where they touch the soil. The name ‘podophyllum’ means ‘stout-stalked leaves’; the leaves growing at about 30 cms on strong stalks.

Depending on the varieties, the leaves can be dark green, light green, variegated leaves; or even entirely white, pink or yellow. The leaves start off spade-shaped and then change into 3 or 5 fingerlike lobes once the vines develop.

Syngonium plants can be pruned into desired shapes or trained to grow on garden structures. If you want the plants to remain bushy, simply cut all the trailing vines at the base. These vines can also be replanted to grow more plants. Syngonium can flourish with low sunlight and hence are good indoor plants, for coffee tables, window sills etc.

The leaves, stem and roots have some amount of toxicity; the sap causing burning sensation and even eye damage. So be sure to wash you hands well after working with Syngonium plants, or use gloves so that there is no contact with the sap. The appearance of the plants usually give you signs of ill-health; with browning, bleaching or yellowing of leaves to indicate too much or too little water or sunlight.

Propagation is from stem cuttings, younger stems preferred. Make sure the stem cuttings have some nodes, that will grow roots readily in water or soil.

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