Family description

Terrestrial herbs or epiphytes with creeping or tuberous rhizomes, or vines with aerial roots, rarely free-floating aquatics (Pistia).
Leaves of variable shape, the lamina mostly simple, or palmately or pedately divided, alternate, with long petiole and sheating at the base; margin entire; stipules absent.
Inflorescences a terminal, cylindrical spadix subtended (and sometimes partly or wholly enclosed) by a frequently large, coloured and persistent spathe.
Flowers bisexual or unisexual, then plants monoecious with pistillate flowers in the basal part and staminate flowers higher up on the spadix (sometimes separated by a naked zone, or the apical part of the spadix flowerless and more or less swollen), rarely plants dioecious. Tepals (0--)4--6(--8), free, minute. Stamens 1--8. Ovary superior, 1-locular to plurilocular, style 1, stigma simple, mostly capitate, sometimes papillose; ovules 1 to many.
Fruit mostly a berry.

General info

Distribution Pan-tropical, with ca. 110 genera and 2950 species.
Ecology Often in forest understorey, but many climbers can reach the forest canopy. Some species are aquatic and float on the water surface.
Uses Ornamentals. Also used as food (taro, yams, some vegetables).

Genera treated

  • Alocasia
  • Pothos
  • Syngonium


Alocasia sp

Pothos sp

Syngonium sp