This particular plant has helped spur much discussion on the UBC Botanical Garden forums on whether infrared wavelengths can attract pollinators. ChrisR, of Gloucester, UK, originally posted it as Heat-producing Philodendron flower. Subsequently, Chris also did this timelapse animation and later it submitted to the BPotD Submission Forum. I highly recommend viewing the timelapse animation — I originally intended to post it as part of this entry, but I’ve held back because the image movement can be a distraction while reading the entry or studying today’s photograph. Do also read the original thread and participate there if you’d like to join that discussion.
Philodendron is a large tropical genus, consisting of approximately a thousand species (with more to be discovered). It is native to tropical areas of the New World; most species are lianas, or woody-stemmed climbing species. Philodendron bipinnatifium, or tree philodendron, is an exception as it grows into a small shrub. In warm temperate to tropical areas, it is cultivated as an ornamental (primarily for its foliage). It is also a relatively common houseplant in colder climes. Plants of Hawaii provides a series of photographs of the species growing in outdoor cultivation.
Other common names include cutleaf philodendron and, in Portuguese, banana-de-macaco, cipó-imbé and banana-de-imbê (for more common names in Brazil, see GRIN’s list: Philodendron bipinnatifidum).
Botany / education resource link: the Canadian Outreach Guide to Plant Biodiversity Education is a recently-launched web site that provides a central clearinghouse of plant education resources. Though geared toward Canadian curricula, the database of outreach activities and links to other resources should be useful to educators from around the world.