Question about Spathiphyllum Domino (Peace lily) Photos

greattigerdane(z5NY)October 21, 2008

This has been bugging me for a while, so I have a few questions.

I have read that this plant is variegated with a bumpy texture because of a virus, is that true?

Because my plant has a lot of stems, I separated out a smaller plant (with roots attached) and planted it in it's own little 2" pot.

As new leaves started to grow, I noticed they were smooth and either all white, or mostly white with a touch of "light green" not dark like the original.

How does moving a section of a smaller plant into it's own pot cause a difference in the leaves? New soil? Moved it away from a root mass with a virus? I guess I just don't understand why the leaves changed just by being in another pot.

They look like two different plants!

Billy Rae

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maidinmontana(Zone 5 Billings MT)

I don't know what would cause the leaves to be a different color???? I babysat a verigated lily for my son to try to nurse it back to health and I noticed there were some new leaves that were split right down the middle, half was white while the other half was verigated??? Maybe it has something to do with the propagation, when the nursery started a new plant the roots were of a combined species thus the different colored leaves. I do know they have much different growing characteristics than the non-verigated variety. I did learn that while nursing my sons.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:53PM
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The thing is, the little plant I lifted out of the bigger pot had about four or five variegated bumpy leaves on it like the big plant. I cut the variegated, bumpy ones off when the whiter smoother leaves started to come in because they didn't match, or look right.

If I had left the little plant alone to grow taller with the bigger one, the leaves would of stayed like the bigger one. Very odd just because it was moved to it's own pot!

I really like the "new look" though. Wonder what would happen if after the little one grows up, I removed a small plant (with roots) and put it in it's own pot??? Or, lifted out another small plant and then replanted it right back in???

A real mystery!
Billy Rae

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 11:39PM
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how can i recover the almost dying spathiphyllum plant?and how ill make a new one out of the other spathiphyllum lat maybe the question is how can i prune this plant.. yhank you

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 10:57AM
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There are a couple of possibilities here I think. It's based on where these more variegated leaves came from. Daughter = your smaller more variegated plant and mother = your larger original plant.

1. Did the daughter plant's SAME old leaves that it had when attached to the mother plant suddenly acquire more variegation? That would be unusual, but not unheard of, and quite certainly environmental. Plants can lose and gain variegation. Light is usually the culprit.

2. Did the daughter plant grow new leaves that had more variegation than the older leaves it had when attached to the mother plant? You should see old leaves with less variegation and new leaves with much more variegation. This could be environmental again (the daughter is in a different pot with a different local environment, so it puts up new leaves of a different constitution) or it could be an apical "sport" (i.e. the apical bud in your plant has gained more variegation due to some genetic mechanism. It's hard to comment more on the genetic hypothesis without knowing how variegation works in Spathiphyllum. If this case (case 2) is true and more than one rosette (look for clusters of petioles (leaf stems) at the soil level) suddenly put up more variegated leaves, then the genetic explanation is ruled out since sports should be rare and random, with a single origin usually. They shouldn't effect multiple rosettes simultaneously. Then again that could be a sport after all with a single origin in the mother plant, and the effect was simply occulted by cultural conditions until now. Plants are really complex!

3. Does your daughter plant's leaves have the same degree of variegation now as it did when attached to the mother plant? I.E. is there any chance there was a patch with a greater degree of variegation when you split it off? In the same pot, we would expect all of the "ramets" (individual rosets in the pot) to have the same microenvironment. Therefore it would have to be a genetic effect -- a sport. You probably would have noticed this, though, I'm guessing.

Hopefully that was somewhat clearer than mud. :D

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:08PM
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A couple more notes on variegation. This may or may not be on topic. :) It isn't immediately obvious if this is viral or chimeral variegation. Other forms of variegation are usually only found in natural variegation (e.g. Begonias, Yellow Archangel, Aluminum plant). Most human-selected variegated plants are chimeral.

Chimeral variegation is where each cell consists of a mixture of chloroplasts (organelles in the cell containing chlorophyll) that are normal (green) and mutant (colorless). Colorless plastids are often called leucoplasts. When cells divide, these two plastid types are *randomly* assorted into the new cells. Some cells end up with more chloroplasts, some with more leucoplasts. Cells that end up with all leucoplasts will go on to make more cells like themselves. The assortment process has stabilized in all white cells, and this will end up in patches of white on the leaf. Cells ending up with all chloroplasts make more like themselves and have stabilized on the entire opposite side of the scale: totally green patches. These will go on to produce the all green and white patches you see.

Plant cells don't have thousands of chloroplasts; indeed they may have only a couple dozen or so, so it is easy to imagine how by this "mistake" process of assortment, cells very soon end up with either 100% chloroplasts or 100% leucoplasts, so variegation is usually dichromatic -- two shades only. Where patches grow together and through one another there may be some blurring at the edges. Hosta, on the other hand, has variegations exhibiting several shades of green. I have no idea what the mechanism is there. The mechanism outlined above cannot explain "polychromatic" variegation. Hoya carnosa, on the other hand, appears to have "3D" variegation. Has anyone else observed this? White patches are somewhat sunken on my plant. Totally off-topic. :)

Your plant could be explained as a "sport." All this means, perhaps, is that the apical bud that gave rise to your plant has a greater number of leucoplasts in its pool of plastids. It takes only simple statistical thinking to realize that this would cause more and larger white patches. It sounds reasonable at least. :) Who knows for sure?

I know much less about how viral variegation creates patches and stripes. It causes variegation in leaves, and also in flowers. Examples: Abutilon, Orchids, Camellia, Tulipa. All variegation can be expected to result in less vigorous plants (less chlorophyll!) but viral variegations usually have somewhat worse effects. Nevertheless, plants can grow and thrive with infections. Whether these are preserved or not depends on the growing community's opinion. Orchid growers, for instance, usually immediately destroy infected plants. Camellia and tulip growers often preserve these plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Excellent site illustrating white/green inheritance

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:39PM
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One more random note. The loss of the yellow stripe in Sansevieria trifasciata "Laurentii" is probably caused by the mechanism outlined in the link I gave. It doesn't apply to Spathiphyllum since Spaths don't make adventitious meristems!!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:44PM
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If the plant is variegated it is due to a common virus known to science as Colour Break Virus. The virus is the cause of variegation but is not fatal to the plant. In most cases the plant will out grow it but in some specimens it remains. Tissue culture labs are now purposely injecting the virus into their plants because people will generally pay more for a variegated plant. In that case, it almost certainly will eventually loose the variegation.

The bumpy leaves are more likely a result of excess chemical used in the tissue culture process. Almost none of the millions of Spathiphyllum specimens sold annually are grown naturally. Instead they are created chemically in a "soup" created from the genes of a parent plant. If the plant is well cared for it will eventually outgrow the excess chemicals and will again produce "normal" leaves.

In nature these species often grow in full direct sunlight living in water.

Much of this as well as how they grow in nature is explained on the link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Spathiphyllum

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 9:23PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Have those of you speaking about variegation noticed that that question was at least 2 yrs. old?

Sean, who asked the most recent question:

"how can i recover the almost dying spathiphyllum plant?and how ill make a new one out of the other spathiphyllum lat maybe the question is how can i prune this plant.. yhank you"

It's usually best here to post a new thread for each new & separate question. What you're asking is different that what's been discussed here.

We can't suggest how to fix your plant w/out knowing what's wrong w/ it. Pls. provide more info. about what's wrong w/ it or maybe post a picture, so folks can try to help you.

To make a new plant &/or prune it are separate issues, for which it's the wrong time of year. Pruning & propagating are both best done in the Spring.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 11:48PM
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I've today observed the bumpiness of variegated Spathiphyllum myself as well. It's quite weird and very obvious. I don't think it is an effect of meristem culture since plants leave meristem culture quite small (no more, I guess, than a few centimeters) and these leaves were certainly produced outside meristem culture.

Exoticrainforest: I'm not sure one can say categorically that the variegation is virus-caused. I have seen some discussion of virus-induced variegation in Aroid discussion groups online, but it doesn't apply to all cases. This patent application for Domino has come to my attention, which clearly suggests a genetic basis for the variegation. It also asserts a good degree of stability of the variegation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google patent result

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 12:00AM
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My information came from botanist Peter Boyce in Malaysia and Dr. Tom Croat at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Both of their email addresses are easily found on the internet should you care to discuss the subject with them.

Variegation is simply the plant's inability to produce chlorophyll in the leaf which in some species is inherited but in others is not normal.

You may also wish to post a query on Aroid l which is the forum for the International Aroid Society (Spathiphyllum are aroids) since both of these botanists as well as others are on the forum. Colour Break virus has been discussed there in the past. You may even be able to find the disucssion on the IAS website.

You can join Aroid l without charge or obligation here:


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 9:34AM
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My curiosity has again been peaked in this subject so I just sent personal notes to three of the top aroid botanists on the subject, Pete Boyce, Tom Croat and Dylan Hannon. In addition, I made a post for additional information on Aroid l.

I have a large collection of electronic media relating to aroids and just ran a search on leucoplasts relating to aroids through the entire collection of some 200 books and papers. The term was not located in any aroid discussion.

I then went to all 7 of my botany dictionaries and this is the best definition I can find:

Leucoplasts are a category of non pigmented plastids or organelles found in plant cells. An organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specified function. These colorless plastids are found in the cells of roots and the underground storage organs including underground stems such as tubers, bulbs and corms. The are involved in the storage functions of these organs including the storage of foods such as starches, lipids and proteins however some have no involvement at all in the storage process but instead process fatty acids as well as amino acids. Typically leucoplasts are much smaller than chloroplasts and have no involvement in the leaves of plants.

I am uncertain what else may be involved in the variegation of the plant that began this discussion but leucoplasts as described earlier in this thread could not be involved.

Once I receive responses from the botanists I asked or from Aroid l I will post the information.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 11:14AM
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Leucoplast was a term I co-opted myself for variegation. You probably aren't going to find many books that call them that, but it is correct with respect to the Latin: "colorless/white plastid." I did find a review paper that used the same terminology:

I don't know if you will have access to these journals (through JSTOR etc), but some scientists have studied variegation. Looking into the literature, it looks like nucleus-controlled non-chimeric variegation is more common than I previously thought and some common internet resources (e.g. Wikipedia) would have suggested. Still, it is clear that non-viral variegations are extremely common and possibly much more common than viral variegations.

Some examples of genetic variegation.
Nuclear control (non-chimeral):
*Saintpaulia ionantha
****There are also chimeral variegations in African violets
*Dieffenbachia "Camille"
*Arabadopsis thaliana

*Ficus rubiginosa 'Variegata'
*Barley and Rice
****Figure three is a very good visual explanation of the concept.

Clearly non-viral variegation is common to many groups. One will notice that an aroid is reported (Dieffenbachia) with nonviral genetic variegation. My recollection is that Dieffenbachia variegation is natural, as in D. seguina and D. regina, and cultivars simply exaggerate the variegation. I wasn't able to access the fulltext of that article, so I can't say quite as much. This paper reports Epipremnum aureum, another variegated aroid, as natural variegation (a surprise to me): It looks like this is controlled by nuclear genes and is non-chimeral. Another example of natural aroid variegation is in Schismatoglottis calyptrata ( Another paper shows/mentions natural variegation in Homalomena and Caladium ( I think it is clear that natural variegations are relatively stable and under genetic control, rather than being virally transmitted. They frequently function to deter herbivores by mimicking damaged leaves. It seems clear (IMHO) that at least in many cases, aroid variegation is not due to artificial infection by viruses. No doubt it has been reported for several plants, such as Zamioculcas, but I don't think that one can conclude that all aroid variegations (even artificial) are necessarily viral in origin.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 2:30PM
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Hi Pirate Girl, somehow I missed your message. I totally missed that this message is two years old. Oops! I'm usually more observant than that. Oh well.

Exoticrainforest: Maybe I will forward these messages down to the Aroid discussion group. It is a very interesting subject.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 2:33PM
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Since you are obviously well trained in this subject, please do post this on Aroid l.

I just received a response from Dr. Croat and in his 40 years of aroid research he has never encountered the term leucoplast in relationship to aroids.

I am just about to read these articles:

The article discusses the various common types of variegation

My response regarding the Colour Break Virus is there are few naturally bred aroids available for sale in stores in the United States. Certainly, some nurseries naturally breed stock but the majority just buy tissue cultured material and the injection of the Colour Break Virus is now quite common since folks will pay extra money for a variegated plant.

I look forward to your post. The forum moderator just sent a note offering the links I posted above. You are going to find some very well informed growers and scientists on the Aroid l forum, provided we can drag them out of their offices during the holiday season!

Certainly, at least in nature, variegation is a normal genetic process but in cultivation it has become a source of additional income which encourages tissue couture companies to artificially apply the virus.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 4:28PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Won't either of you at least address the question which was most recently asked (albeit badly)?

You both steam rollered right over it like the question wasn't even there. At least VLMastra .... noticed at the last moment ...

Come on folks, I at least tried.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 7:36PM
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exoticrainforest, My apologies. I was just very interested in the discussion later in this thread.

I believe you will find the info you need to restore a plant to health at the link below which I posted earlier. The article was written with the help of quite a few botanists.

Although I believe you will learn how to grow these plants successfully by reading and understanding the entire article you can just scroll down to the section: So, what is the problem that causes our plants to die?

You should find most of your answers there. I am also sending this to you directly and again I apologize if you were ignored.


Here is a link that might be useful: Spathiphyllum

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 9:33PM
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Sean (sanchez(, I just sent a personal apology and an attempt to help to your email address. Since you now have my personal email address you are welcome to ask for any information that may not be clear. If I can't answer I will gladly forward it to a botanist that is capable.

Again, my apologies for appearing to ignore you. You are welcome to join Aroid l which is in part a service of the International Aroid Society if you prefer to ask your question there. You can join at the left of the page. You do not need to join the IAS to be a part of Aroid l.

Steve Lucas

Corresponding Secretary, the International Aroid Society

Here is a link that might be useful: The International Aroid Society

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 9:48PM
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