With almost 500 recognised Philodendron species and countless cultivars and hybrids, it’s inevitable that a few are going to look quite similar.
P. atabapoense and P. billietiae are two such plants that look quite alike at first glance. They’ve got similar growth habits and similar shaped leaves, but there are a few distinct features you can use to tell them apart.
Philodendron billietiae (pictured above) has a orange/reddish stem and petiole, while the atabapoense is a more traditional green colour.
Another good way to distinguish between these two plants is to look at the underside of the leaves. The underside of a billietiae’s leaves will be greenish—perhaps a light rose colour if it’s a newer leaf—while the atabapoense’s leaves have a burgandy underside.
Some sources write that billietiae leaves point downward while atabapoense leaves point upwards, but it’s not unusual for both species to point their leaves towards the sun if the light conditions aren’t perfect.
Finally, if you truly can’t determine the species of your plant, perhaps because it’s showing characteristics of both billietiae and atabapoense, it’s possible that you’ve got a hybrid. In other words—maybe it’s both!