Monolena sp. Panama

by Chuck Nishihira

I will admit that I am not the greatest fan of the genus Monolena.  The species that are in the hobby are without doubt pretty. Still, I have never felt the need to acquire any.  But, this one changed my mind.  It is a species from Panama whose dark leaves and interesting substance seems to stray away from its other relatives.  The leaves almost make me think of begonia leaves in texture, a genus that I adore.  This particular species produces only 2 or 3 leaves at a time.  I think the larger 4″ spreading leaves look best this way as they don’t need to compete for space. Kept in lower light, the leaves will become very dark with reddish tones.  In higher light, some green starts to show itself. I personally try to keep my plant in the lowest light possible.  This has made flowering infrequent though.  The flowers are like many other Monolenas and are a bit unremarkable to me. So it makes it easy for me to grow it dark and forego flowering so that I can get the best leaf color.