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Pogostemon yatabeanus Flowers

September 29th, 2012

It’s autumn and with the cooler temperatures some of the plants out in my pond are going to flower. The most striking one is a field of Pogostemon yatabeanus that I have out there.

Pogostemon yatabeanus with Inflorescence

This Asian native has grown wonderfully all summer for me, but has started producing terminal flower spikes on most of the stems.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Flower Spike

The spikes themselves are quite pubescent (hairy), and are made up of hundreds of individual flower buds.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Buds

Up close, the flower buds look more like an insect than a flower, but you can see that they gradually begin to open up, with each bud producing a viable flower.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Buds

The flowers themselves are a brilliant purple and very feathery. Each flower has a single stamen protruding outward.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Inflorescence

The immature flower doesn’t appear to have pollen (below), but over a day or two each stamen is filled with it.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Flowers

In this 5X magnification (below), you can see the tiny pollen particles clustered on the stamen. I’m not sure if a single flower spike can fertilize itself, or whether multiple plants are required.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Flowers

Eventually, the individual flowers detach from the spike, with the wind carrying them away.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Inflorescence

Below is a close-up of what’s left once a flower detaches.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Inflorescence Bare Spot

Eventually, all that’s left is a bare terminal spike that looks similar to how it all started.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Fading Inflorescence

I really love seeing how our aquarium plants grow and flower outside of the aquarium. Submersed, Pogostemon yatabeanus has growth that’s similar to its terrestrial form, but it’s more delicate with narrower leaves.

Pogostemon yatabeanus

By trimming more frequently, you can encourage the plant to produce smaller leaves, which is really necessary for most aquascapes. It also has a unique feature of sometimes sending out creeping runners that then popup new stems a few inches away. Overall, it’s a great aquarium plant, and it converts pretty easily from emersed form.




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Nymphoides sp. ‘Taiwan’ Flower

August 26th, 2011

I was very happy to walk out to my raised brick pond this evening and find a single Nymphoides sp. ‘Taiwan’ flower. This particular Nymphoides species is fairly rare to flower, which is exactly why I put it outside for the summer.

Nymphoides sp. 'Taiwan' Flower

Every summer I try to put a number of previously unidentified aquatic plants in the hobby outdoors in hope that they’ll flower for me so that more botanically inclined folks can use my photos and pressed specimens to properly identify them.

Nymphoides sp. 'Taiwan' Flower

This particular flower is only about nickel sized in diameter, and sits about 2-3″ above the small lily pad below. It has four sepal and very delicate petals.

Nymphoides sp. 'Taiwan' Flower

The plant itself is a very easy to grow plant indoors in your aquarium, or outside in the pond. Indoors, if you continually trim any of the leaves that reach toward the surface, it will eventually grow fully submerged. One of the neat things about Nymphoides sp. ‘Taiwan’ is that roots eventually grow from the underside of each lily pad, producing a fully viable plantlet. That makes propagation very easy, and possibly also explains why it rarely has cause to produce reproductive flowers.

Nymphoides sp. 'Taiwan' Flower

Nevertheless, I’m very pleased that my plants cooperated and flowered! Now, I can feel justified to clear the water surface, as nearly the entire area is covered by overlapping Nymphoides sp. ‘Taiwan’ leaves! I’ll be sure to post soon if we’re able to properly identify this plant.

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Acmella americana Flowers!

October 12th, 2010

I was very excited this weekend to discover that a plant out in my pond was flowering! This particular plant was collected down in Texas in 2009, and a few of us have been growing it in our aquariums ever since, not knowing what its identity was.

Mystery Plant from Texas

We didn’t actually know we collected it until we got home, sorted through some other plants, and found a single stem in with everything else. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if it was an aquatic plant at first, but sure enough, it grew, albeit slowly. 

Mystery Plant from Texas

With the flower, we now believe the identity of this plant is likely Acmella americana, which has also been known as Spilanthes americana and Acmella oppositifolia over the years.

Mystery Plant from Texas

Submerged, Acmella americana grows a lot like Hyptis lorentzianai, except that it stays lime green in coloration. The growth rate and pattern is similar to Hyptis, in that the leaves stay much smaller under water, relative to their terrestrial size.

Mystery Plant from Texas

Additionally, emersed the stems tend to creep horizontally, but in the aquarium they are much more upright, with longer distance between the nodes. Due to that distance, use in aquascaping would require several stems growing together like you would grow purple bamboo or the true Rotala indica.

Mystery Plant from Texas

I’m very happy to finally get a lead on a plant ID after finding this plant 18 months ago. Now that we have a likely ID, I’m going to try to grow it out, and have some others try using it in their aquascapes to truly find out whether or not it’s a viable plant for the aquascaping hobby. Apparently, Acmella americana has been available in the pond hobby for some time, so it should be readily available to anyone looking to try it out. Comments welcome!

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Syngonanthus sp. “Madeira”

March 11th, 2010

Over the past few years, a number of plants from the Syngonanthus genus have become quite popular in the hobby. One of these is Syngonanthus sp. “Madeira”, a beautiful green stem plant from the Eriocaulaceae family. S. sp. “Madeira” is a delicate plant in mass, but doesn’t seem to be terribly difficult to grow given the proper conditions.

Photo Credit: Jake Adams, editor of ReefBuilders.com

For me, the proper conditions seem to be medium to high light with CO2 and water-column fertilization. Without sufficient iron, this plant tends to appear more pale than when it is in prime health. One of the beautiful things about S. sp. ‘Madeira’ is the shear number of leafs that come out of its crown. Usually it takes a couple months for the plant to adjust to your aquarium, but once it does it’s a pretty faster grower, and bushes out readily after trimming.

Syngonanthus sp.

I’ve also grown this plant in my emersed setup, throwing a bunch of stems in and allowing them to float on the surface. About a week later, a few of the plants sent up flower stalks!

Syngonanthus sp.

When you see the flowers, it’s easy to understand how Syngonanthus is in the Eriocaulaceae family, as the flowers are hat-pin type, just like their cousins in the Eriocaulon genus. The flower stalks are slightly pubescent (hairy), with the bud being indented in the middle.

Syngonanthus sp.

I’m hopeful that these flowers will help us identify the true species for this plant. It’s somewhat probable that several of the Syngonanthus variants being traded, such as Belem, Lago Grande, and Madeira are all actually the same species, but from different localities. Nevertheless, all of these are wonderful aquarium plants that I recommend trying.

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Limnophila sp. ‘Wavy’

September 14th, 2009

One of the newer plants I’ve been growing was sold to me as Limnophila sp. ‘Wavy.’ It is a larger, bright green, version of the Limnophila aromatica whose leaves grow in slightly twisted and wavy. When handled out of water, L. sp. ‘Wavy’ has a smell similar to rosemary like L. aromatica. I would not be at all surprised if we learned that Wavy is really just a variant of L. aromatica.

Limnophila sp. 'Wavy'

I am currently growing Limnophila sp. ‘Wavy’ in my 75G aquarium to provide a bright green background to my hardscape. Since it is a slightly larger plant, it probably isn’t very well suited to any aquarium smaller than 40G-50G. So far, it has been an incredibly prolific grower, requiring a trim more frequently than L. aromatica, which is also growing in the same aquarium.

Limnophila sp. 'Wavy'

It accepts trimming well, and eventually branches at the spot of the cut. Therefore, if you have a larger aquarium, I would recommend this plant as an excellent addition to provide bright green coloration with a unique leaf shape.

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Staurogyne sp. ‘Bihar’ Flowers!

August 8th, 2009

Back in April, I bought this plant from another hobbyist by the name Hygrophila sp. ‘Bihar.’ Submersed, this plant has pinnatifid (feather-like) leaves, which makes it very unique looking, but above water, it looks fairly ordinary.

Staurogyne sp. 'Bihar'

We now suspect that this is likely a Staurogyne, instead of a Hygrophila because of the pubescence (hairs) on the stem and leaves. In addition, one stem has flowered for me out in the pond, and the flower very much resembles that of a Staurogyne.

Staurogyne sp. 'Bihar'

Compared to the rest of the plant, the purple flowers are fairly small. I almost missed that a flower was present. Even the flowers have hairs on them.

Staurogyne sp. 'Bihar'

I’m hoping that combined with these pictures, and a pressed specimen of the plant, that my friend can work with other experts to figure out what species of plant this really is. S. sp ‘Bihar’ most certainly is not correct!

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Sphaerocaryum malaccense Flowers

July 21st, 2009

Previously, I talked about Sphaerocaryum malaccense, and how it can be a unique and beautiful plant in an aquascape. I had the good fortune to take some pictures of my friend’s, plants, who let them grow emersed and managed to get flowers. Below are a few of those pictures. From the flowers, you can clearly see how this is a grass plant.

Sphaerocaryum malaccense Flower

The flower stalks are fairly condensed before they open. The white flowers themselves are very tiny and delicate. I didn’t notice any significant fragrance from the flowers, but they’re nice nevertheless.

Sphaerocaryum malaccense Flower

I really do enjoy seeing how the aquatic plants that we grow submerged look when kept out of water. Hopefully, I’ll have several more flowers to show later this summer.

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Nymphaea micrantha – Plantlets

June 28th, 2009

Nymphaea micrantha is a very popular water-lily that I’ve kept for some time. It’s sometimes incorrectly sold as Nymphaea sp. ‘4-Color’ or as Four-Color Lotus plant. This is probably because the leaves are a smattering of colors, forming a beautiful mozaic on every leaf.

Nymphaea micrantha

One of the other interesting qualities of this species is that plantlets often grow at the base of the leaf where the stem attaches. I noticed several of my leaves doing exactly this. The larger plantlets look like the picture below, with roots protuding from the underside of the leaf.

Nymphaea micrantha

Initially, the plantlets start as a single stem emerging, which eventually has a leaf that unfolds. I’ve had this particular plant growing for almost a year, and it only started exhibiting plantlet growth within the past month.

Nymphaea micrantha

Even as very small stems, you can see below that minature leaves are present. (Yes, some algae too, darn!) Once plantlets develop to sufficient size, and have nice root structures, you should be able to clip them from the parent leaf, and plant them as their own plant.

Nymphaea micrantha

Growing Nymphaea micrantha is not terribly challenging. You just need to make sure to provide a rich substrate and a strong enough light. If you don’t have enough light, the plant will either melt away, or send all of its leaves toward the surface as floating lily-pads. Sometimes this happens anyways. Usually, if you’re diligent at trimming off these surface-loving-leaves, the plant will produce more compact, submersed leaves.

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Fissidens fontanus Moss

June 1st, 2009

Fissidens fontanus is my favorite moss in the hobby right now. With fronds that curl down, and layer upon themselves, it’s a very unique looking moss. The effect is completely different from any of the other mosses in the hobby, as Java Moss, Taiwan Moss, Willow Moss, Christmas Moss, etc all give a similar look, despite minor differences. Fortunately, just like those others, however, Fissidens fontanus is just as easy to grow, and readily attaches to the hardscape.

Fissidens Moss

Similar to any moss, detritus tends to accumulate within, and can ultimately lead to some algae being intertwined with the moss. I use Amano Shrimp to graze on these bits and keep my moss clean. F. fontanus is a North American native moss, with distribution throughout much of North America. As such, it can tolerate a range of temperatures.

Amano Shrimp

Attaching it to wood/rocks is easy. Simply take a few fronds, and tie them down with cotton thread. By the time the cotton disintegrates, the moss should have attached itself. Now readily available in the hobby via hobbyists and online plant resellers, Fissidens fontanus is a moss that everyone should try.

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Rotala sp. ‘Mini’ – Type 1

May 30th, 2009

Another interesting plant that’s been floating around the hobby for a few years now is known as Rotala sp. ‘Mini – Type 1’. There are two plants going around as R. sp. ‘Mini’, so people refer to them as Type 1 and Type 2. The Type 1, shown below is a very petite stem plant with unique leaves that curve downward toward the substrate. The leaves can also get a nice gradient of orange and reddish tones under certain conditions.

Rotala sp. 'Mini'

In my opinion, this is a plant that is quite ugly individually, but as a large bush (50-100 stems) is incredibly striking because there aren’t many plants that look like it. The relatively vertical nature of its growth defines the interesting group-of-quills look of the bush. Rotala sp. ‘Mini – Type 1’ demands a little bit more attention (light, CO2, nutrients) than the easier Rotala species, but is still not too difficult to keep. Give it a try!

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