Structures in Cryptocoryne: inside the kettle

When you aren't comfortable with common structure of the inflorescence of Cryptocoryne, just look first at the 'structures' page.

In the lower part of the inflorescence, usually named the kettle, the female and male flowers are arranged around the vertical spadix. Bottom up, you see a circle of (mostly) 6 intergrown female flowers (ovaries) with a short style and stigma. Then follows a thin, naked (= not covered with male or female flowers) part of the spadix. On the top of the spadix there is a spiral with many male flowers, mostly partly covered by the valve. The very top of the spadix, the appendix, is naked again.
Inside the circle of female flowers, just around the spadix, you see a couple of globular bodies. Its is said they are produce a sweet attractive smell for insects. Tthe strong smell of 'rotten fish' of some species is emitted however by the limb of the spathe.

Click on the picture to enlarge, click on the NAME to go to the page

In Cryptocoryne the kettle is mostly about 1.5 cm high. This C. cordata var. grabowskii has a purple zone in the upper part.
coll. YS I-SAKK2, cult. B 969
The kettle can be very elongated like in C. cognata ...
coll. Yadav0328, cult. B 625
... or short and inside white coulored like in C. striolata ...
coll. SW 09-14, cult. B 1323
... or with a constricted upper part of the kettle like in C. pontederiifolia
coll. unknown, cult. B 32
       
Quite a number of species, like this C. ×willisii, have opposite from the male flowers depressions in the kettle wall, like windows, called alveoli.
coll. unknown, cult. B 639
The whole kettle is deeply purple coulored inside. The inflated lower part of the kettle is typical for C. ferruginea var. ferruginea.
coll. SW09-Agus, cult. B 1329
The kettle is closed by a transverse 'roof', called a septum, with only a small hole in it. Typical for C. spiralis
coll. Cook s.n., cult B 1165
The recently discovered C. mekongensis has something like an elongated kettle / tube with a pronounced collar.
coll. TI-LK5603A, cult. B 1230

Male flowers

     
Each stamen has two pollen sacks, each with a small, (dark when fresh) tube out. When the stamens ripens, the end of the tubes dissolves, letting out a slimy droplet with pollen.
C. ×willisii
coll. PB, cult B 1166

This picture is made from the much bigger Lagenandra thwaitesii, which has the same principle.
coll. unknown, cult B 60
The stamens of C. yujii are dark coloured. Note also the white appendix, mostly hidden behind the flap.
coll. YS M-SINN, cult. B 980
The many male flowers of C. retrospiralis are nearly globular arranged. Note the spotted spadix.
coll. FW-I08-C04, cult. B 1211

Female flowers

     
The long styles and very narrow stigma's in C. zaidiana.
coll. CST2548, cult. B 1120
C. ciliata var. ciliata has hardly a style, the stigma's are just on the ovaries.
coll. SW 0601, cult. B 1161
A length section through the top of the ovary of C. cordata var. siamensis showing the olfactory bodies. These bodies are said to emit a sweet smell.
coll. unknown, cult. B16
A length section through the ovary of C. cordata var. siamensis See the ovules which, when pollinated, will grow out to seeds.
coll. unknown, cult. B16

Pollination and Fruiting

     
When the limb opens is the flap down, facilitating the small pollinator flies / beetles to bring the pollen to the ripe stigma's. C. cordata var. siamensis
coll. unknown, cult. B 372-NJ 3104
After ca. one day, the entrance will close. The captured pollinaters have to wait till the pollen is extruded and will be covered with it. A few days after closing the valve, it opens again and the pollinators will try another spathe.C. bangkaensis
coll. FW 01-5, cult. B 853
A fresh collected herbarium sample of C. cordata var. grabowskii is conserved in alcohol. After opening of the kettle a lot of small flies were found. Note the closed valve.
coll. TI A-04G
Stained pollen grains (ca. 20 ┬Ám) from C. noritoi, seen through the microscope. These grains have to be delivered by the insects on the stigma's.
coll. NT 0401, cult. B 1085
       
A young fruit of C. cordata var. cordata. The stigma's are still present on top of the ovaries. The stalk (peduncle) of the fruit will elongate considerable before the fruit opens.
coll. & photo Bogner 1712
A mature fruit of C. spiralis var. cognatoides. In most species the fruits are broad ovoid, this one is globular.
coll. Yadav 327, cult. B 669
The fruit opens at the top. Each ovary has a few seeds. C. minima.
coll. Wilde 21201, cult. B 664
The seeds will germinate immediately, that means that you will see the first leaf after ca. a week. C. striolata.
coll.and cult. CK K-74
       

To get a look at the flowers, use a (surgeon) knife to cut away a part of the kettle. After some training it's quite easy. The seam of the spathe ends on the the kettle just where the very top of the spadix is attached to the kettle.

See also the pages: Foliage, rhizome and roots, Spathe and SEM pictures

Updated December 2013