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On the Origins and History of the Royal Hybrid Philodendron 'Maharlika'

Dedicated to Steve Lucas, Keeper of the Exotic Rainforest and Collector of Rare Araceae

Last Edit: 2013-10-16


Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Philodendron Maharlika I

After years of aroid watching, there are very few aroids that still engender in me at first glance a sense of wonderment and beauty akin to that very first time I saw in the distance a huge Alocasia in the early 1990s, and yet I remember staring slack-jawed at a picture posted by LariAnn Garner of Aroidia Research at the UBC Botanical garden Forum in June of 2009. Steve Lucas (photopro) and I had been discussing Philodendron 'Soledad' when LariAnn had chimed in.

I did a hybrid of P. bipinnatifidum and P. stenolobum in the late 1970s/early 1980s and called it "P. x willoum" at the time when I thought the P. stenolobum was P. williamsi. I still have my original specimens. I've since done F2 work and have come up with a very exciting hybrid that has leaves as long and narrow as P. stenolobum but slightly wavy as well. I'll need to post a pic as the plant is quite a sight to see.

She later posted two pics of a Meconostigma that had leaves that induced uncontrolled salivation on my part, and I blurted:

LariAnn, I would have to say that is one of your best crossings ever...the leaves look absolutely fantastic, and coupled with the strong robust stem and constitution of a meconostigma, that aroid is a true winner. Have you given it a name yet? If it were slightly thinner, it would look like one of the more elaborate Kris daggers, deadly ceremonial weapons from the Malay peninsula.


Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Image posted by LariAnn of her new unnamed hybrid in June 2009.

Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Image posted by LariAnn of her new unnamed hybrid in June 2009.

When LariAnn noted that she did not have a name yet for the hybrids and that she was open to suggestions, I spent the next two hours mulling it over, and finally came up with a name from my native Tagalog tongue that fit the aroid perfectly.

I thought of one name...Philodendron 'Maharlika'. Maharlika means something of noble work, a noble creation.

The story of how this noble hybrid came to be was later related to me by LariAnn.

According to LariAnn, she got a hybrid that she called Philodendon x willoum when she crossed the species P. stenolobum and P. bipinnatifidum in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This handsome hybrid won the Best in Show at the IAS Show and Sale at the time, and is still growing and blooming to this day.


Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Image of P. x willoum.

Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Image of P. x willoum winning the Best in Show at an IAS Show in the early 1980s

She then selfed the aroid to get a series of seedlings representing the F2 generation, which she subjected to stress testing in 2007. LariAnn said she did the F2 "to get the hybrid segregation and, perhaps, more attractive plants" and she later noted that "My anticipation was confirmed when I saw how spectacular the plant that is now known as Maharlika turned out to be."

LariAnn selected the most attractive seedling in the lot as P. Maharlika I, and only a few months after LariAnn finally named her new hybrid, the Maharlika I won the Best in Show award at the 2009 IAS Show and Sale event in Miami in September 2009.


Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. P. Maharlika I wins Best in Show in September 2009.

Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. P. Maharlika I wins Best in Show in September 2009.

Unfortunately, the Maharlika I has yet to produce pups and this led LariAnn to select a second F2 seedling from the 2007 cross which she named Maharlika II and which became the basis for tissue culture. It is the Maharlika II (shown below) which is being sold currently in LariAnn's website. The Maharlika II is also less sensitive to cold than the first seedling.


Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Philodendron Maharlika II

The Maharlika I type, with its dark wavy 1.2 meter long leaves, is an unusually beautiful and distinctive Meconostigma, and so I am sure that it is with bated breath and crossed fingers that many aroid lovers wait for the day when this magnificent specimen is finally released to the public.


Click on thumbnail above for detailed image. Philodendron Maharlika I

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