The sciaphilous plants are those plant species that prefer shaded positions. The word sciafila derives from the Greek (σκιά “ombra” and φίλος “amico”) and literally means “friend of the shadow”. The sciaphile plants are therefore those that take advantage of a shaded exposure and therefore need illumination without direct sunlight.
The sciaphilous plants, from the morphological point of view, are generally characterized by very large leaf flaps, transpire with considerable intensity and therefore need a lot of water.
The presence of voluminous leaves makes it possible to assimilate more luminous radiation, but on the other hand the phenomenon of leaf transpiration increases. For this reason, in general, the sciafile plants need a lot of water even if they are grown in the shade. In practice they have characteristics opposite to those of heliophilous plants.
Usually the plants are sciafile are those that live in European forests, tropical forests, undergrowth or in the shade of other larger plants, etc. ..
Plants able to reach important dimensions such as beech and holm oak, are sciafile only in the early stages of development. When these plants begin to grow, they become heliophiles.
The sciaphilous plants do not belong to a homogeneous category from the systematic point of view but often they belong to very distant families.
Because of the vastness of their presence in the plant kingdom, it is impossible to propose a complete list of the sciaphilous plants.
Among the sciafile plants we remember: Hydrangea macrophylla (common hydrangea), Hydrangea cinerea, Hydrangea heteromalla, Hydrangea pani culata, Hydrangea arborescens, Oxalis acetosella, Camellia sinensis, Camellia japonica, Camellia assimilis, Camellia azalea, Camealia comune, Asperula odorata, Astrantia major, Campanula latifolia, Campanula trachelium, Cornus sanguinea, Ligustrum vulgare, Lunaria rediviva, Lysimachia nummularia, Lysimachia punctata, Luzula albida, Rhamnus fragula, Saxifraga umbrosa, Viburnum lantana, most of the Ferns, etc.