Ctenanthe, native to tropical Brazil, is a member of the Marantaceae family and is related to the calathea and prayer plant. These evergreen perennials are grown primarily for the beauty of their colorful leaves.
The three species which make good houseplants are C. lubbersiana, C. oppenheimiana, and C. burle-marxii. C. lubbersiana reaches a height of about 18 inches and has green and yellow patterned elliptical leaves with pale green undersides. C. oppenheimiana also called the ‘Never Never Plant, grows as tall as 3ft., produces lance shaped leaves that are dark green with silver bands, and has foliage with maroon undersides. The Tricolor variety of C.oppenheimiana is even more colorful. C. burle-marxii is a smaller more compact plant that has silver gray elliptical leaves with green stripes. A Ctenanthe is not an easy care plant and can be quite frustrating for a novice plant grower. These plants are considered mildly poisonous (although often listed as non-toxic), it may cause individual allergic reactions and should be kept away from pets and children.