Araceae Juss.

Dieffenbachia Schott

This genus is accepted, and its native range is Mexico to Tropical America.


CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011.

General Description
HABIT : evergreen herbs, sometimes robust, stems erect to decumbent, sometimes ± rhizomatous, rooting proximally, foliose distally, erect and unbranched distally, internodes distinct, green, smooth, with conspicuous annular leaf scars. LEAVES : numerous. PETIOLE : sheath more than half as long as petiole or reaching blade. BLADE : oblong-ovate, elliptic to oblanceolate, dark to light green or sometimes variegated with white, silver, yellow or various shades of green; midrib thick, sulcate or prominent on upper surface, primary lateral veins pinnate, sometimes only weakly differentiated, running into margin, secondary laterals parallel-pinnate, connected by transverse tertiary veins. INFLORESCENCE : (1-)2-several in each floral sympodium, cataphylls short and usually inconspicuous. PEDUNCLE : shorter than petiole. SPATHE : persistent, slightly or distinctly constricted between tube and blade, green, lower part convolute into a usually rather long, persistent tube which splits longitudinally in fruit, upper part expanded into a short, erect or recurved blade. SPADIX : slightly shorter than spathe, female zone entirely adnate to spathe, enclosed within tube, laxly flowered, separated from male zone by subnaked axis with a few, scattered sterile male flowers with reduced staminodes, rarely fertile zones contiguous ( D. humilis), male zone fertile to apex, free, subcylindric, densely flowered, erect. FLOWERS : unisexual, perigone absent. MALE FLOWER : stamens 4-5, connate into a subsessile, rhomboid to hexagonal synandrium, truncate at apex, sulcate laterally, anthers lateral, common connective thick, fleshy, thecae oblong-ellipsoid, dehiscing by short, apical, pore-like slit. POLLEN : extruded in strands, inaperturate, ellipsoid to oblong or nearly spherical, large (mean 79 µm., range 54-99 µm.), exine almost perfectly psilate to obscurely verruculate and/or sparingly punctate-foveolate to densely foveolate, rarely coarsely tuberculate ( D. parlatorei). STERILE MALE FLOWERS : composed of a whorl of (3-)4-5(-6), ± flattened, irregularly globose-ellipsoid, sometimes ± connate staminodes. FEMALE FLOWER : staminodes 4-5 in a whorl, white, clavate with rounded apices, spreading to erect, surrounding and longer than gynoecium; ovary stout, subglobose to ovoid, thickwalled, 1-3-locular, locule walls bulging outwards giving ovary distinctly lobed appearance when plurilocular, ovules 1 per locule, anatropous, placenta axile to basal, style inconspicuous, stigma massive, almost as broad to broader than ovary, 2-3-lobed or subhemispheric (when unilocular), usually yellow, saturated with oily secretion at anthesis. BERRY : usually borne in arching infructescence, berries globose to 2-3-furrowed, stigma remnants persistent, 1-3-seeded, scarlet red to orange. SEED : globose to ovoid, testa smooth, green to blackish green, embryo large, endosperm absent.
Evergreen helophytes or terrestrial herbs with erect to decumbent aerial stems, internodes distinct, green; leaf blade simple, ovate to oblanceolate often variegated; spathe tube usually rather elongated, persistent into fruit and then splitting to reveal scarlet or orange berries; female zone of spadix entirely adnate to spathe, laxly flowered; flowers unisexual, perigone absent; male flower a truncate synandrium. Differs from Bognera in having female flowers each with a whorl of 4-5 staminodes and parallel-pinnate fine leaf venation.
Tropical and subtropical humid forests, helophytes, at edges of stream banks, or terrestrial in forest leaf litter.
Mexico to Trop. America.

Native to:

Argentina Northeast, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Cayman Is., Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Leeward Is., Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Windward Is.

Introduced into:

Bangladesh, Borneo, Caroline Is., Comoros, Cook Is., Gulf of Guinea Is., Malaya, Seychelles, Society Is.

Dieffenbachia Schott appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Wiener Z. Kunst 3: 820 (1829)

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

  • Mayo, S.J., Bogner, J. & Boyce, P.C. 1997. The genera of Araceae. 370 pp.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2008. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • 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.

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. 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 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.