Araceae Juss.

Dieffenbachia aurantiaca Engl.

This species is accepted, and its native range is Costa Rica to W. Panama.


CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011.

Dieffenbachia aurantiaca is known only from southwestern Costa Rica and adjacent Panama, in the region of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica and the Burica Peninsula in Panama.
General Description
Stout herb, 0.7-2.3 m tall; sap fetid and caustic; stems erect at apical part, to 2 m long, the older portion reclining and up to 2 m long; internodes 2.0-4(6) cm long, 5-7(10) cm diam., dark green to pale green, semiglossy to glossy, streaked with paler green; petioles 13-33(48) cm long (averaging 24 cm long), C-shaped at base in cross sectione moderately spongy, medium green, semiglossy adaxially, matte and acutely l-ribbed abaxially, the surface finely dark striate, sometimes variegated with paler green markings, sheathing 1/3 to nearly throughout (35%- 97% their length and averaging 77Wo); sheath 6.5- 25.5(38) cm long (averaging 17.7 cm), medium green, finely dark green striate, sometimes variegated with paler green markings, adaxially acute margins sometimes much paler, with margins in- curled but usually not overlapping, the apex free-ending and obliquely rounded to rounded-auriculate distally; unsheathed portion 0.5-2 cm long, angular to ± triangular in cross section, flat to bloadly sulcate adaxially (sometimes with a medial keel), adaxial margins thin and revolute, acutely keeled abaxially, abaxial margins thickly winged, sometimes with a medial keel, thin, revolute, some- times medially keeled at malgins; blades oblong- elliptic to ovate-elliptic, slightly inequilateral, one side 1-1.5 cm wider than the other side, usually subcoriaceous, acuminate to abruptly acuminate at apex, slightly inequilateral and obtuse to rounded or subcordate (rarely attenuate on one side) at base, (26)31-57 x 11-27 cm (averaging 39 x 19 cm), 1.7-2.6 times longer than wide (averaging 2 times), ranging from about as long as petioles to 2.8 times longer than petioles (averaging 1.7 times longer); margins weakly undulate; upper surface dark green, concolorous or sometimes variegated, drying dark olive-green to medium gray-green, weakly glossy to semiglossy; lower surface moderately paler, matte to weakly glossy, drying pale yellowish green; midrib flat to broadly concave above (broadly sulcate near base), 5-20 mm diam., sometimes whitish, faintly stliate above, bluntly acute to V- shaped (a continuation of the triangular petiole) be- low, drying brown below, faintly striate; primary lateral veins (8)12 to 14 per side, departing midrib at a steep angle, spreading at a 50°-70° angle, gradually spreading in a broad curve, slightly to moderately paler than surface in the proximal one-half weakly raised to convex in valleys, flat and darker than surface toward margins, drying mostly paler, sometimes darker than surface above, weakly con- vex and slightly paler than surface below, drying yellowish and paler than surface or brownish and darker than surface below; interprimary veins present or absent, usually with 1 between each pair of primary lateral veins in the lower 1/3 of the blade; minor veins darker than surface, visible but moderately obscure below. INFLORESCENCES to 3 per axil; peduncle (7)10-18 cm long, acutely angular on one side, drying striate, 3-6 mm diam.; spathe 17-25(38) cm long, 2-3.5 cm wide, flattening to 5.7-8 cm wide on tube, 2.5-6.'S cm wide at constriction, 3-4.3 cm longer than the spadix, gradually long-tappered toward apex from the middle, uniformly light green to medium green throughout; weakly glossy outside, glossy inside; spathe blade 2.5-7 c m wide when flattened; spadix 16-20(33) cm long; free portion to 15.5cm long; pistillate portion 6.5-8.5(15.5) cm long. 1.5-2 cm diam. Throughout (mostly drying 6-9 mm diam.); fertile staminate portion 7-12.5 cm long, white, tapered toward apex and weakly tapered slightly toward base; intermediate sterile segment 1.5-4 cm long, with a few scattered staminodia in upper half; pistils 51 to 72, irregularly scattered, with 3 to 4(6 to 7) across the width of the spadix, seperated from one another by ½ to 4.0 times their width, depresses-globose, to 2 mm long, 1.2-1.6(2.8) mm diam., pale green; stigmas cushion-shaped, to 2 mm high, 2.5-3 mm wide, white; stamindoia 3 to 5 per pistil, 1.5-2(3.8) mm long, free or briefly united at base, held well above the stigmas sometimes united for much of their length; synandria 1-2(3.4) mm diam., margins irregularly angled with rounded, linear to 3-sided slit medially at apex. INFRUCTESCENCE 19-24 cm long; spathe orange outside; spadix 8-15 cm long; berries red-orange, B & K yellow-red 6/2.5 to B & K yellow-red 7/5 to red B & K red 6/10 (Berlin & Kay, 1969), subglobose, ovoid to ellipsoid, 7-10 mm long.
The species is characterized by its more or less elliptic, usually unvariegated, green- drying blades, obtuse to subcordate at base, but especially by the triangular and weakly sheathed petioles, decurrent at apex. It is probably most closely related to D. horichii, but differs from that species in having a longer free portion of the petiole, which is more or less triangular. Also vegetatively similar are D. longispatha and D. nitidipetiolata, but both differ primarily for the same reasons, i.e., that the free portion of the petiole is not triangular.
It occurs in wet forests and swampy sites from near sea level to 780 m in Tropical wet forest (T-wf) and Prernontane wet forest (P-wf) life zones (Holdridge, 1967).
Dieffenbachia aurantiaca begins to flower in the early rainy season with flower buds having been seen as early as May and as late as August, and mature open inflorescences seen between May and December. Fruiting occurs between September and March.

Native to:

Costa Rica, Panamá

Dieffenbachia aurantiaca Engl. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Anales Inst. Fís.-Geogr. Nac. Costa Rica 9: 209 (1898)

Accepted by

  • Croat, T. (2004). Revision of Dieffenbachia (Araceae) of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 91: 668-772.
  • Hammel, B.E. & al. (2003). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 2: 1-694. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.

Not 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. [Cited as Dieffenbachia oerstedii.]


CATE Araceae

  • Croat, T. 2004. Revision of Dieffenbachia (Araceae) of Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard.. 91 (4): 668-772

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Hammel, B.E. & al. (2003). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 2: 1-694. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.

  • 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.