Skip to main content
This species is accepted, and its native range is Papua New Guinea.
Rhaphidophora cryptantha


CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011.

A species of extraordinary appearance, both in flowering in a neotenic state (otherwise known from R. hayi, R. parvifolia (Maluku) and R. pachyphylla) and especially by the inflorescences arising and opening on shoots carried behind the appressed shingling leaves. Often the mature inflorescences are completely obscured by the leaves, although occasionally the tip of the spathe is visible. In this flowering mode R. cryptantha is distinct from the neotenic species listed above (in which the inflorescences are carried on shoots held clear of the leaves), and unique in the genus. The shoot architecture of R. cryptantha most closely recalls that of R. hayi in that the inflorescences are borne on the tips of easily dislodged abbreviated shoots arising from the axils of shingling shoots. However, R. cryptantha differs in bearing the inflorescences behind the foliage, in the shape and coloration of the leaf lamina, the smaller, marcescent spathe, ellipsoid spadix and long style. In cultivation R. cryptantha has been confused with Monstera dubia, a species with a similar shingling juvenile stage and variegated leaves. The two are readily separable by the orientation of the leaves, those of R. cryptantha are ascending, those of M. dubia descending. Dissection of the ovary of R. cryptantha reveals two intrusive parietal placentae and numerous ovules, assigning it to Rhaphidophora.
Not known with certainty. The specimen used to make the type was introduced into cultivation from Lae Botanic Garden and it seems quite possible that it originated in Papua New Guinea. The plant in cultivation at Kew was received from Ted Green, also ex Papua New Guinea.
General Description
Moderate-sized, slender to somewhat robust, semi-leptocaul, homeophyllous neotenic liane to 3 m; seedling stage unknown; pre-adult plants shingling, hardly or not forming terrestrial colonies; LEAVES: adult shoot architecture comprised of clinging, physiognomically unbranched, densely leafy, sterile stems and very abbreviated, free, flowering stems arising from the axils and remaining concealed behind the leaves of the main stem; stems rectangular in cross-section, widest side slightly convex, smooth, dark green, without prophyll and cataphyll fibre but with newest parts very thin, adherent, petiolar sheath tissue, internodes 1-5 x 0.2-0.5 cm, separated by ± straight scars; flagellate foraging stems rather weakly developed, usually at least partially leafy; clasping roots arising from the internodes, prominently pubescent, spreading but usually not extending much beyond the leaf span; feeding roots not observed (absent?); leaves distichous, shingling and ascending on adherent shoots, densely arranged and slightly spreading on free shoots, on flagella shoots leaves scattered with internodes between carrying a prominent cataphyll of short duration; cataphylls and prophylls membranous, caducous; petiole very shallowly grooved, 0.75-1.5 x 0.3-0.4 cm, smooth, apical and basal genicula barely visible; petiolar sheath prominent, membranous, long-ligulate, margins of ligule fused, the ligule extending up to 3.5 cm above base of lamina and enclosing shoot apex, caducous but adhering to stem; lamina broadly ovate, coriaceous, base cordate, apex rounded with a tiny tubule; midrib barely visible abaxially and adaxially; primary venation reticulate, barely visible abaxially, slightly raised and silver-grey adaxially; interprimaries more-or-less absent; secondary venation reticulate, flush abaxially, very weakly raised adaxially, silver-grey; INFLORESCENCE sequentially produced from a shoot arising from behind the leaf, each subtended by a very small membranous, caducous prophyll and one or more very reduced leaves; peduncle terete, 0.75-1 x 0.2-0.3 cm; spathe ellipsoid, weakly beaked, 3.5-4 x 1.2-1.5 cm, spongy-fleshy, yellow, inflated and gaping at female anthesis and then closing and drying onto developing infructescence; spadix ellipsoid, stipitate, inserted ± level on stipe, 2.1-2.2 x 0.7-0.8 cm, creamy white; stipe 5-6 x 2-2 mm, white; stylar region irregularly rhombohexagonal, 2-2.2 x 2.1-2.3 mm, weakly conical; stigma very prominently raised on a c. 1 mm stipe, punctiform to globose, c. 0.5 mm diam.; anthers exserted at male anthesis; INFRUCTESCENCE not seen.

Native to:

New Guinea

Rhaphidophora cryptantha P.C.Boyce & C.M.Allen appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Boyce, P.C. [1447], Papua New Guinea K000523929 isotype
Boyce, P.C. [1447], Papua New Guinea K000523932 isotype
Boyce, P.C. [1447], Papua New Guinea K000523933 isotype
Boyce, P.C. [1447], Papua New Guinea K000523930 isotype

First published in Gard. Bull. Singapore 53: 99 (2001)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


CATE Araceae

  • P.C. Boyce 2001. The Genus Rhaphidophora Hassk. (Araceae-Monsteroideae-Monstereae) in New Guinea, Australia and the Tropical Western Pacific Gardens Bulletin Singapore. 53: 75-183

CATE Araceae
Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011.

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew