Anthurium or Alocasia: How To Tell Between Both!


Anthurium or Alocasia
Top: Anthurium / Bottom: Alocasia

Anthuriums and Alocasias are both in the Aroid family. They both have large leaves with a similar shape and a similar growth habit. It can be challenging for novice plant collectors to distinguish these two plants from one another.

The key to telling Anthuriums apart from Alocasias is to look at the leaves and petioles. Alocasia leaves are more arrow-shaped, whereas Anthurium leaves look droopier and more heart-shaped. Anthuriums’ petioles grow from the stem, whereas in Alocasias, they grow directly out of the tuber.

Learning how to identify new plants is one of the most exciting and addictive parts of becoming a plant collector. This article discusses the similarities and differences between Anthurium and Alocasia species and how you can tell them apart.

Anthurium And Alocasia Characteristics

Anthurium and Alocasia belong to a family of plants called Araceae. Other Aroid plants include Monstera, Philodendron, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma. This group of plants is often referred to as elephant ear plants due to their large leaves with a similar shape.

Anthurium

Anthurium is the most diverse and largest genus in the Araceae family. There are over 1000 different species and many hybrid cultivars. Plant collectors love them because they have a variety of growth habits, from bushy to climbing.

Some Anthuriums have thin leaves, others have thicker leaves, some look matte, while others have a glossy shine. Leaves can be ovate, longer, more spatula-shaped, or droopier and more heart-shaped.

Anthuriums originate from the tropical rainforests of Central and Southern America. These plants thrive in warm, humid conditions with bright, indirect sunlight. It is amazing to observe their leaves following in the sun during the day!

Anthuriums flower structure consists of a colorful spathe that encloses the actual flower (the spadix). Collectors love them for the interesting different colors and patterns on their flowering shoots.

It is best to plant an Anthurium in soil that is amended with perlite for drainage. They enjoy a lot of humidity, so it is good to mist them throughout the day or place a saucer filled with wet pebbles under the pot.

Alocasia

This genus is native to South America, Asia, and Oceania. There are about 80 different species of Alocasia. They are popular amongst plant collectors, and many hybrid cultivars have been created.

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Alocasias have huge, luscious foliage in a variety of colors, from bright green to purple. They are long and arrow-shaped. Their flowers are similar to Anthuriums but have a pale green or white spathe.

They naturally grow in tropical jungles, so they thrive in warm, humid conditions. Alocasias are not frost hardy, so they are mainly grown as houseplants. They can tolerate deep shade, so they can live in many areas inside our homes.

It is best to grow Alocasia plants in soil with lots of organic matter. This will simulate the rich rainforest soil. Add 50% perlite to the soil to improve the drainage. Alocasias bulbous or rhizomatous roots love wet soil, but it must drain sufficiently to prevent root rot.

How To Tell Alocasia From Anthurium?

Now that we are familiar with both these plants, let’s look at how to easily differentiate between them:

Similarities Between Anthurium And Alocasia

Both Anthuriums and Alocasia:

  • Have enormous leaves that can reach up to 12 ft in length.
  • Can have leaves that are glossy, matte, or velvety.
  • Have flowers that consist of a spadix covered by a spathe.
  • Prefer growing in bright, indirect light and cannot tolerate growing in full sun.
  • Require heat and humidity to grow and are not frost hardy.

Differences Between Anthurium And Alocasia

The following differences are the key to telling Anthuriums and Alocasia apart:

  • Alocasias have arrow-shaped foliage, whereas Anthuriums can have oval, heart-shaped, or spatula-shaped leaves.
  • Alocasia leaves are more upright. They often have distinct veins that contrast in color to the rest of the leaf. Anthurium leaves are droopier, and many varieties do not have prominent colored veins.
  • If possible, flip the plant upside down to look at the roots. Alocasias have thin roots that grow out of a corm. Anthurium roots are thicker, fleshier, and more fibrous.
  • These plants often do not flower in our homes, but you can tell the difference between an Alocasia and Anthurium by looking at the blooms. Alocasia flowers have a thin spathe that covers the spadix. Anthuriums have a thicker, fleshier spathe that grows perpendicular to the spadix, leaving it exposed.
  • Looking at the petioles is a reliable way to tell an Anthurium from an Alocasia. In Alocasias, the petiole grows straight from the middle of the tuber or rhizome. In Anthuriums, the petioles grow from the stems.

Most Popular Anthurium Species

  • Anthurium crystallinum ‘Ace of Spades’ has dark green foliage with distinctive white veins.
  • Anthurium vetchii or King Anthurium grows super long, thick, leathery leaves.
  • Anthurium magnificum has beautiful oval leaves with distinctive veins.
  • Anthurium andreanum or the flamingo flower has bright red, glossy flowers.
  • Anthurium watermaliense or Black Anthurium has very dark green, glossy leaves, and dark, dark purple flowers.
  • Anthurium scherzerianum has a pink, curly spadix.

Top Alocasia Species

  • Alocasia zebrina has gorgeously striped stems and dark green foliage.
  • Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ has super dark green (almost black), matte foliage with white veins.
  • Alocasia ‘Dragon Scale’ has almost metallic-looking leaves that look utterly magical.
  • Alocasia cuprea ‘Red Secret’ is a cultivar with deep maroon leaves and dark green, almost black veins.
  • Alocasia longiloba is a classic looking Alocasia with large, dark green, glossy leaves that have light veins.
  • Alocasia odora is a bright green species that grows very upright. Its flowers have a beautiful scent at night.

Conclusion

These gorgeous tropical plants, with their giant foliage, are both members of the Araceae family. Anthuriums and Alocasias have so many characteristics in common that it is often difficult to tell them apart!

The best way to tell between them is to look at the leaves and petioles. Alocasia leaves are more upright and arrow-shaped, whereas Anthuriums have droopier, more heart-shaped foliage. Alocasias petioles grow from the tuber, and Anthuriums petioles grow from the stems.

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Harold Thornbro

Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Public Speaker, Teacher, Homesteading and Permaculture Enthusiast. If You're Looking For Me, You'll Find Me In The Garden.

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