Pothos, Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Centipede Vine, etc., etc.
Synonyms of Epipremnum aureum (4) (Updated on 1-22-21): Epipremnum mooreense Nadeaud, Pothos aureus Linden & André, Rhaphidophora aurea (Linden & André) Birdsey, Scindapsus aureus (Linden & André) Engl.
Epipremnum aureum (Linden & André) G.S.Bunting is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Pothos now. It was named and described as such by George Sydney Bunting in Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1964. It was previously named and described as Pothos aureus by Jean Jules Linden and Édouard-François André in L’Illustration Horticole in 1880.
The genus, Epipremnum Schott, was named and described as such by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott in Bonplandia in 1857.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 15 species in the Epipremnum genus (as of when I am updating this page on 1-22-21). It is a member of the plant family Araceae with 140 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
Epipremnum aureum is native to Moorea, an island in French Polynesia which one of the Windward Islands which is part of the Society Islands.
THERE ARE A FEW LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
Many aroids change with age as with the Epipremnum aureum. The plants you find at garden centers and floral shops are only the juvenile form and normally, no matter how old your plant is, as a houseplant growing in a small pot, will never reach maturity. The problem with proper identification of this species was because there were originally no flowering specimens to be found. Much of aroid identification depends on their flowers since their leaves change with age and species resemble one another in the juvenile form. The differences are found in the tiny sexual parts of the spadix.
In 1880, Jean Jules Linden and Édouard-François André incorrectly placed this species in the Pothos genus. The placement was based on sterile juvenile plants. With age, it was found these plants did not possess certain characteristics of the genus Pothos. In 1908 Adolf Engler removed the species from the Pothos genus and transferred it, again incorrectly, to the Scindapsus genus.
Scindapsus aureus remained the correct scientific name until 1962 when botanist Monroe Birdsey reported the first flowering specimens were found in Puerto Rico and at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, Florida. Upon examination, he transferred the species to the Rhaphidophora genus in 1963. He later decided the plant should be in the genus Epipremnum but apparently he did not publish a new name.
Another botanist, who was unaware of Mr. Birdsey’s findings, proposed that there were too little differences between Epipremnum aureum and Epipremnum pinnatum. He proposed Epipremnum aureum was a cultivar of Epipremnum pinnatum. That is strange to me because the name wasn’t even official at the time.
Botanist George Bunting transferred Pothos aureus to the Epidremnum genus and agreed that flowering material was very similar to Epipremnum pinnatum. Then, in 1964, he officially published the name Epipremnum aureum.
Apparently, Jean Nadeaud was correct when he published the plant as an Epipremnum species in 1899.
As strange as it may sound, I have never bought a Pothos (Epipremnum aureum). When I was in Mississippi, two of my friends gave me their Pothos because they were having issues with them. They didn’t “give” them to me to keep, they just wanted me to “fix” them. I had one of them for about three years and one for maybe two years before I gave them back because I was moving back to Missouri.
Then, when mom passed away on October 30, 2015, we got one at her funeral. They are very popular funeral plants, you know.
Epipremnum aureum are very popular houseplants and have been for many, many years. There is a lot of information online and you can check out the links at the bottom of the page.
The Epipremnum aureum is very commonly mistaken for a Philodendron, especially Philodendron hederaceum. There are a few good ways to tell them apart, though.
In the above photo, you will notice the difference between the tips of the leaves between the Epipremnum aureum on the left and the Philodendron hederaceum leaf on the right. Supposedly, the shape of the Philodendron at the tip allows water to drain away easier.
The two plants are on opposite sides of the room so I used a leaf of the Epipremnum aureum that needed to be removed. That’s why the leaf is yellow.
The petioles on the Epipremnum aureum have a groove where the Philodendron hederaceum petioles don’t have one. Sorry, the photo is a little blurry.
The petioles of the Philodendron hederaceum are smooth with no groove.
Philodendron hederaceum have netted (protective) leaf sheaths on their petioles. These turn brown right after the petiole and leaf emerge and fall off in time. Epipremnum aureum do not have these. I think the Epipremnum pinnatum have these sheaths which is one thing that sets the two species apart.
Aroids are a very interesting group of plants. Most grow in rainforests, maybe all, and are very diverse in many ways. They are constantly changing as they grow and no two leaves are exactly alike.
There are several cultivars of Epipremnum aureum available with different degrees of variegation. Some leaves are completely green. There are also variegated Philodendron hederaceum but I don’t recall ever seeing any. The variegation on their leaves is more refined.
You will find a link below to an article about the Epipremnum aureum on the Exotic Rainforest website that is very informative. The other links also provide information you may be interested in.
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FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
PLANTS ARE THE STRANGEST PEOPLE
GUIDE TO HOUSEPLANTS