A rose by any other name.... Or is that Scindapsus, Epipremnum or Pothos?


Plant names. You’ve probably noticed that there is some variability in the way plants are named. As a plant collector and enthusiast it can be quite confusing – and as a grower it’s not much easier!  Much like our first names and surnames, plants also follow a binomial naming convention. Their Genus name comes first  (with capitalisation) followed by the species name in lower case. Sometimes this is followed by variety or cultivar names which are usually capitalised. It looks like this: Philodendron hederaceum Brasil. Many of the names are Latin - and often hide clues about the plant such as colour (eg rubra for red), smell (eg fragrans for fragrant), size (eg compacta for small) and provenance (eg sinensis for China). It is endlessly fascinating and can be confusing because plant names can and do vary.  

The other source of confusion is the use of common names where oftentimes the same name can describe a number of plants. Take Jade plant for example – it could be a Crassula ovata or a Portulacaria afra – 2 quite different plants.  One of my most favourite plants goes by 3 names - Scindapsus, Epipremnum and Pothos - sometimes labels have all 3 names. Let’s start with the easy one: Pothos is a common name for these vining plants so that can be taken out of the equation leaving just Scindapsus and Epipremnum. 

The main difference between the two comes down to how many seeds they produce per ovary - Scindapsus have one, epipremnum a few. I’ve never seen one of these flower, let alone develop seeds so I guess that means memorising which one is which - here you go:  

Let's start with the Epipremnums:

  • Devil's Ivy: Epipremnum aureum
  • Manjula: Epipremnum aureum Manjula
  • Pearls & Jade: Epipremnum aureum Pearls and Jade
  • Snow Queen: Epipremnum aureum Snow Queen
  • Marble Queen: Epipremnum aureum Marble Queen
  • Epipremnum pinnatum 
  • Cebu Blue: Epipremnum pinnatum Cebu Blue
  • Neon: Epipremnum aureum Neon

Scindapsus:

  • Silvery Anne: Scindapsus pictus Silvery Ann
  • Satin: Scindapsus pictus Exotica
  • Silver Lady: Scindapsus pictus Silver Lady
  • Scindapsus pictus Argyraeus 

 Now that you have the correct names all you need to do is memorise which one is which!



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