Flamingo lily

by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala

Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum), a tropical flower popular for its beauty, belongs to the family Araceae. The flower has a spadix called the rat's tail that tapers off from the flower, giving it its characteristic appearance.

Origins and Distribution
The Flamingo lily is a native of the Central and South America, mainly Colombia. As it grows well in warm and humid atmosphere, the plant blooms equally well in the tropical conditions of Southeast Asia. There are many varieties of the plant with more than 600 species found in different parts of the world. In Malaysia, the plant is usually found in Pahang (Cameron Highlands), Selangor, Perak and Johor. The plants is cultivated mainly for its flowers which have a high commercial value. In this region, the Java variety is the more well-known specie.

The plant is mainly perennial and evergreen and grows up to 30 cm tall. It is a creeping, climbing plant and is a semi-epiphyte. The leaves are heart-shaped, large, and brilliant light green in colour against the backdrop of thin stalks. The flower is actually a spathe (an inflorescence), surrounded by a bract that is large and colourful. The colour of both the spathe and the bract can be yellow, white or red. Propagation of the plant requires high humidity conditions and can be done by top cuttings, stem cuttings, division or fresh seeds.

Usage and Potential

A stunner, the plant is mainly grown as a houseplant intended to beautify any room. There is no recorded medicinal, food or other usage of the plants. On the contrary, the leaves, stems and roots of the plant are poisonous. If ingested, the plant may cause mild stomach disorder. The plant sap can cause skin irritation.
Three main varieties of the plant are grown commercially for their flowers: Anthurium andraeanum, with a red or white spade, Anthurium scherzerianum with a glossy dark red spade and a curling spadix, and Anthurium crystallinum, which does not flower but is grown for the appearance of its velvety dark green leaves. Flamingo lilies have a long vase life and they can stay fresh in a flower vase for up to 14 days.

Variant Names
Common name: Flamingo lily.
Scientific name: Anthurium andraeanum.
Other names: Oil cloth flower, Flamingo flower, Painter's Palette.

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

Chan, E. (2000). Tropical plants of Malaysia & Singapore (p. 16). Hong Kong: Periplus Editions.
(Call no.: SING 581.95957 CHA)

Polunin, I. (1987). Plants and flowers of Singapore (p. 86). Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: SING 581.95957 POL)

Riches, S. (2002, October 13). Gardening people: Totally tropical taste. The People, Features, p. 34.

Chinaroad Lowchen. (2000-2003). Plants poisonous to dogs. Retrieved Aug 29, 2003, from www.lowchensaustralia.com/pplants.htm

Malaysia. Department of Agriculture. (2001, March 1). Flower technology. Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum). Retrieved Aug 29, 2003, from

The Butterfly Pavillion. (2001). Horticulture. Retrieved December 2, 2003, from www.butterflies.org/hortcltr3.cfm?plantID=8

The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Tropical plants--Singapore

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