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Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum RTBG.jpg
Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Monsteroideae
Tribe: Spathiphylleae
Genus: Spathiphyllum
Map of the natural distribution
  • Hydnostachyon Liebm.
  • Massowia K.Koch
  • Spathiphyllopsis Teijsm. & Binn.
  • Amomophyllum Engl.
  • Leucochlamys Poepp. ex Engl.

Spathiphyllum is a genus of about 40 species of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to tropical regions of the Americas and southeastern Asia. Certain species of Spathiphyllum are commonly known as Spath or peace lilies.

They are evergreen herbaceous perennial plants with large leaves 12–65 cm long and 3–25 cm broad. The flowers are produced in a spadix, surrounded by a 10–30 cm long, white, yellowish, or greenish spathe. The plant does not need large amounts of light or water to survive.


Schott's description of the genus refers to Spatha foliaris persistens,[2] where spatha is a spathe, and foliaris is an adjective modifying spathe, meaning relating to a leaf, and persistens means continuing or persisting. Phyllum also means a leaf.[3]

Selected species[edit]

Species include:[4]

Cultivated hybrids include:[5]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Several species are popular indoor houseplants. Spathiphyllum cleans indoor air of many environmental contaminants as per a study done by NASA, including benzene, formaldehyde, and other pollutants.[6][7] It cleans best at one plant per 10 m3.[8] It lives best in shade and needs little sunlight to thrive. It is watered approximately once a week. The soil is best left moist but only needs watering if the soil is dry.


Spathiphyllum is mildly toxic to humans and animals when ingested.[9][10] The Peace Lily is not a true lily from the Liliaceae family. True lilies, as well as onions and garlic, are much more toxic to cats and dogs.[citation needed] The Peace Lily contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritation, a burning sensation in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and nausea.


  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Heinrich Wilhelm Schott and Stephan Endlicher (1832). Meletemata botanica. C. Gerold, made available online by The Biodiversity Heritage Library. 
  3. ^ Stearn, W.T. (1992). Botanical Latin: History, grammar, syntax, terminology and vocabulary, Fourth edition. David and Charles. 
  4. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  5. ^ Edward F. Gilman (1999). "Spathiphyllum x ‘Clevelandii’, Fact Sheet FPS-555". University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. 
  6. ^ Anne Raver (February 13, 1994). "Need an Air Freshener? Try Plants". New York Times. 
  7. ^ HGTV - The Best Houseplants for a Healthy Home
  8. ^ "How many plants are optimal". Air So Pure. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  9. ^ University of California -- Toxic Plants (list)
  10. ^ article

External links[edit]