Philodendron 'Black Cardinal'

Will you associate black as a leaf color?  The normal answer is no but there are plants out there whose leaves are dark and almost colored black.  Very unusual and yet very real.  One of them is named Philodendron "Black Cardinal".  

Phainopepla from SearchNetMedia under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license..I tried to research the origin of its name but came up empty-handed so if anyone can help me out, I would appreciate it.  I did wonder if it might have to do with color and if there was a Philodendron cardinal that would be red and that this was just the black leaf version.  No such thing.  During my research, I did come across a "black cardinal" bird which turned out to be Phainopepla; it is of a different family coming from Ptilogonatidae and not Cardinalidae.  The only other cardinal that turned up during my Google search were news reports from Africa Resource and Scotland on Sunday detailing the appointment of Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, one of the most influential jobs in the Vatican, thus making him extremely papabile.  He is very amicable in this video where they asked him about the possibility of becoming a pope.  He seems to be gentle and endearing.

Philodendron vine, Hoomaluhia Park Botanical Gardens. Oahu island, Hawaii, USA. photo by QT Luong / terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.The name "Philodendron" is derived from the Greek words philo and dendron which mean "love" and "tree", respectively.  So named because their normal habitat is arboreal; at the base of and climbing up trees.  All are climbers; those that grow fast are classified as vining while those that grow extremely slow or imperceptibly are known as self-headers.  The latters leaves are spaced so close together that the stem is not visible until some of the older leaves fall off.   The 'Black Cardinal' is an example of a self-header.

There are many hybrids of philodendron among which is the 'Black Cardinal'.  It is an interspecific hybrid developed from a series of crosses among P. wendlandii, hastatum, erubescens, imbefragrantissimum, and an unnamed species.  It was released from Robert H. McColley's hybridization program, which began way back in 1951, at Bamboo Nursery, Inc. in Orlando, Florida.  

The Philodendron 'Black Cardinal' has blackish green broad oval leaves.  When new leaves emerge they are initially a burgundy red but as they mature they become a dark green and the more mature leaves a dark burgundy that appears almost black. The three colors can be seen in the picture below.

The black cardinal has a red stem.  Like all aroids, this plant has a flower stalk (spadix) which is white-colored and surrounded by a protective leaf (spathe) which is blackish-red, cloak-like wrapping spathe around a white, finger-like spadix. Although I read somewhere that the Black Cardinal rarely flowers.  This must be true because I have come across only one picture of it.

My Black Cardinal is potted in a small plastic container with coconut chips and coconut coir as planting medium.  The plastic pot doesn't dry out easily compared to a clay pot.  Coconut chips drain well but can retain moisture for long periods.  It should never be placed under direct sunlight or its leaves will burn. 

If you are interested in other plants with black-colored leaves, you may want to visit Mr. Subjunctive of Plants Are the Strangest People who has posted a list of other plants that have similar colored leaves.

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