Difference Between Philodendron and Pothos

Philodendron and pothos are both climber plants that have several similarities. For starters, each of them belongs to the same family called Araceae. They creep up into any space they can find, be it other trees, buildings, or even electricity poles. Their roots and aerial and their leaves as glossy and heart-shaped. However, there are several differences between them as well that may seem hard to notice at first glance.

Philodendron vs Pothos

The main difference between philodendron and pothos is that philodendron has thin heart-shaped leaves that are smooth to touch, have a protruding sinus, and a strikingly tailed point at the end whereas pothos has thick spade-shaped leaves that have a slightly bumpy or raised texture, and a bit more asymmetrical than the former.

Philodendron vs Pothos

Philodendron is the term for a wide variety of climbers that have flowers. It has around 489 species, making it the second-largest in its family in terms of variety. The leaves of this plant grow on its vine, which is opaque, thin, and sort of waxy. New leaves that grow in the plant have a slightly pink or brownish tint to them.

Meanwhile, pothos is a species of plant that is commonly known as devil’s vine or money plant. Its name is such because, at times, it can get almost impossible to kill it. However, unlike philodendron, the leaves of pothos grow out from other leaves in the plant. Moreover, new leaves only have a lighter shade than other fully grown leaves.

Comparison Table Between Philodendron and Pothos

Parameters of ComparisonPhilodendronPothos
TypeIt is a genus of plants from the family Araceae.It is a species of plant from the family Araceae.
DescriptionIt has thin heart-shaped leaves that are smooth in texture, have a protruding sinus and a very pointy tail.It has relatively thicker leaves that are spade-shaped, bumpy in texture, and even asymmetrical at times.
GrowthIts leaves grow on the vine of the plant.Its leaves grow out from new leaves.
New LeavesThe new leaves have a pink or brownish tint to them.The new leaves are only of a lighter shade than old leaves.
StemsThe stem is relatively thin and has a greenish-brown colour.The stem is thick and of the same colour as the leaves.
RootsThe aerial roots are thin, spindly, and grow in groups.The aerial roots are thick and individually placed.

What is Philodendron?

Philodendron is the name of a genus of climber plants. These plants are generally grown at homes for ornamental purposes. The name ‘philodendron’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Philo-‘, meaning love or affection and ‘-dendron’ meaning tree. There are around 489 species in this genus that belongs to the Araceae family. However, many of them remain undescribed.

The leaves of the philodendron genus plants are thin and smooth to touch. Their shape is like that of a spade. The sinus, which is where the two different lobes or sides of the leaves meet, is very protruding. The end of the leaf at the top is very pointy.

These leaves are known to grow out from the vine itself. When new, the leaves have a pink or brownish tint to them. As they grow and become full-sized, their colour changes to green. The stem of the plant is thin and greenish-brown in colour. In contrast, its roots are thin and spindly. They grow in groups, which makes the stems and leaves closely placed to each other.

Philodendron plants reproduce by growing an inflorescence. This is a leaf-like hood that contains a tube-like structure inside it. For pollination, these plants use the help of specific beetles that carry pollen from one plant to the other. 

What is Pothos?

Unlike philodendron, pothos is only a species of flower. It is most commonly known by the name ‘Devil’s ivy’ or ‘money plant’. The plant is very popular as an ornamental feature for homes. An interesting fact about it is that it is very difficult to kill this plant. It even stays green when kept in the dark for long durations.

Regardless, the leaves of pothos are thin and sort of bumpy and irregular. Their shape is more like a heart. However, it is very common for different leaves in a single plant to grow asymmetrically. Unlike the former, the leaves of pothos grow out of old leaves in the plant. The new leaves only have a lighter shade than fully grown leaves.

The stem of pothos is thick and has the same colour as the leaves.  The roots of the plant are aerial as well. However, they do not form groups. Each individual node is placed separately and relatively far from the other. This results in the leaves and stems also having considerable space between them.

Unfortunately, these plants can only grow flowers if they are spiked with artificial supplements. The last known flower that grew out of a pothos plant was in 1964. A caution while growing this plant at home is that it can be toxic if consumed by dogs and cats.

Main Differences Between Philodendron and Pothos

  1. Philodendron is a genus of plants from the family Araceae whereas pothos is a species of plants from the family Araceae.
  2. Philodendron has thin heart-shaped leaves that are smooth in texture, have a protruding sinus and a very pointy tail whereas pothos has relatively thicker leaves that are spade-shaped, bumpy in texture, and even asymmetrical at times.
  3. Philodendron leaves grow on the vine of the plant whereas pothos leaves grow out from new leaves.
  4. The new leaves of philodendron have a pink or brownish tint to them whereas the new leaves of pothos are only of a lighter shade than old leaves.
  5. The stem of philodendron is relatively thin and has a greenish-brown colour whereas the stem of pothos is thick and of the same colour as the leaves.
  6. The aerial roots of philodendron are thin, spindly, and grow in groups whereas those of pothos are thick, and individually placed.

Conclusion

Philodendron and pothos belong to a similar family of plans and even have quite a similar look. However, there are subtle differences that can be noticeable on keen examination. Firstly, the leaves of philodendron are heart-shaped, thin, and smooth whereas those of pothos are spade-shaped, thicker, and kind of bumpy. Moreover, the sinus of philodendron is more prominent as compared to pothos.

Another major difference is that philodendron tends to have different colours for its stems and even new leaves. On the other hand, pothos has a stem that has the same colour as its leaves. Even new leaves are green but only have a lighter shade.

References

  1. https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/27/3/article-p222.xml
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030442381200177X
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