Marantaceae

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Prayer-Plant Family

Calathea donnell-smithii K. Schum, an understory herb in the Marantaceae. Note the S-curve of the vein from margin to midrib. Una hierba del sotobosque. Note la curva de las venas en forma de un “S” entre la márgen y el eje central.


Description: Marantaceae superficially resemble Heliconiaceae, but they are easy to distinguish. All Marantaceae have a pulvinus, a specialized sheath of tissue around the apex of the petiole that allows the leaf to move and intercept more light. (The common houseplants known as “prayer plants,” because their leaves close up at night like praying hands, belong to this family.) Unlike Heliconiaceae, the leaves have cross-fibers that make them resistant to tearing. It is very rare to find a Marantaceae with tattered leaves. Also, the veins of Marantaceae approach the midrib at an acute angle. From margin to midrib, the veins make a sigmoidal shape (more evident in smaller-leaved plants).

Economic uses: Grown as an ornamental and a house plant.


Descripción: Las Marantaceas son superficialmente parecidas a las Heliconiaceas, pero es fácil distiguirlas. Todas las Marantaceas tienen peciolos pulvinulados; es decir, el ápice del pecíolo tiene un engrosamiento cilíndrico que le permite a la hoja realizar movimientos y asi interceptar más luz. Algunas Marantaceas cierran sus hojas durante la noche. A diferencia de las Heliconiaceas, las hojas de las Marantaceas tienen fibras perpendiculares de las venas que las hace difíciles de rasgar. Usualmente las hojas de las Marantaceas que se encuentra en el bosque son enteras. También, las venas de las Marantaceas tienen un ángulo agudo con respecto al eje central de la hoja. De la márgen hasta el eje central, las venas forman de una “S” (más evidente en las plantas pequeñas).


Usos económicos: Se cultivan como ornamental.


Genera/species at La Selva: 4/21: Calathea (16), Ischnosiphon (2), Pleiostachya (2), Stromanthe (1).


FIELD MARKS - large leaves, distinguished from Heliconiaceae by tearing with rough edges, S-shaped veins that meet the midvein at an acute angle.


Calathea warscewiczii
Calathea warscewiczii
Leaf showing characteristic venation pattern of the Marantaceae.
Calathea lutea is a common roadside species with white undersides to the leaves.
Calathea lutea inflorescences.
Calathea crotalifera in bloom.
Calathea crotalifera in bloom.
Comparison of Heliconia (Heliconiaceae) and Calathea (Marantaceae) leaves. Note that the veins are perpendicular to the midrib in Heliconiaceae whereas veins form an acute angle with the midrib and are S-shaped in Marantaceae.


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