Caulescent, 1-2 m tall; roots bearing large, edible tuberlike storage organs. Petioles with short-pilose sheath, the pulvinus to 7.5 cm long, somewhat brownish; blades ovate to oblong-ovate, obtuse to short-acuminate, rounded to subtruncate at base, ca 70 cm long and 30 cm wide, bicolorous, frequently with light purple bands between midrib and margin, the surface glabrous, pleated; midrib glabrous to minutely puberulent, the lateral veins sparsely puberulent, raised. Spikes solitary, ovoid to cylindrical, 6-14 cm long, 3-5.5 cm wide; peduncle 7-30 cm long; bracts reniform, spiral, closely imbricated, to 2.5 cm high and 4 cm broad, green and maroon, the apex +/- rounded; flowers not opening spontaneously, borne in pairs with as many as 13 pairs subtended by a single bract; petals unequal, obovate-elliptic, purple, ca 2 cm long; calyx to 3.5 cm high, whitish at base, purple above or with tips tinged with pale violet, persistent in fruit, turning darker purple, the lobes unequal, free; staminodia white to cream-colored, shorter than corolla, sometimes tinged with purple at apex. Capsules obovoid, ca 1 cm long; seeds usually 3, trigonous, rugose, ca 5 mm long, bearing a basal aril ca half as long as seed. Croat 4271, 11989. Adult plants uncommon in the forest, more common in clearings; juvenile plants sometimes common. Flowers throughout the rainy season (July to December). The fruits develop to mature size in about 2 months and are usually present in the same inflorescence throughout much of the flowering season. Plants of this species may be distinguished by the light purple bands that extend over much of the blade midway between the margin and the midrib, chiefly on the lower surface. The other distinguishing feature is the short-pilose pubescence on the sheaths, which is usually visible to the naked eye. In contrast, the sheaths of C. marantifolia vary from glabrous to rather densely pubescent; the trichomes are generally appressed, and always very inconspicuous, scarcely or not at all visible to the naked eye. Juvenile plants can be distinguished from other species by having the sheath vinous at least at its apex. The cream-colored flower form of C. latifolia, which occurs elsewhere in the Canal Zone, lacks the purple bands on the leaf. Woodson and Schery in the Flora of Panama (1945b)mistakenly reported this species as a variety of C. allouia (Aubl.) Lindl. (C allouia var. violacea). This name is based on a misinterpretation of Calathea violacea Lindl., which is restricted to Brazil. The plant is fairly shade tolerant. On BCI C. latifolia is pollinated by the bee Euglossa imperialis (elsewhere by Eulaema cingulata and Eulaema nigrita) (H. Kennedy, pers. comm.).