Structures in Cryptocoryne: the spathe
See also the Structures pages: Foliage, rhizome and roots, Inside the kettle and SEM pictures

The spathe consists of a lower cylindrical part, named the kettle, and an upper leaf blade which is cylindrical folded and closed with a seam. The latter forms the tube and the limb of the spathe. At ripening the upper part loosens and shows its attractive structure and colour: the limb of the spathe. Sometimes it happens that also the tube seam (partly) loosens. Besides its beauty, the limb also emits - depending on the species - a dirty smell. Depending on your nose, you may smell rotten fish or a dead horse.
The opening of the limb goes very fast. It happens in a quarter of an hour, at me mostly in the late night. See the MOVIE of the opening of the limb at C. spiralis var. spiralis

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

A schematic drawing of the spathe of a Cryptocoryne. The three main parts (top down): limb, tube and kettle. See for the latter the page 'Inside the kettle'.
Drawing after de Wit (1990)
A longitudinal section of the spathe of C. bangkaensis. The tube is ca, 10 cm long. Note the constricted opening at the collar of the tube at the limb, this is seen in more species. At some species the tube is almost missing.
C. alba
coll. PB-SRL4.4.05-01. cult B1189
A very long tube of ca. 50 cm is seen in some species growing submerged.
C. crispatula var.balansae
coll. ZH 0504-2
photo Zhou


The limb still being closed.
C. cordata var. cordata
coll. JS, cult. B1403
Both limbs have a raised rim on the lower part, called the collar. The collar zone below has a different texture and is often of a different colour.
C. beckettii
coll. unknown, cult B 92, 663
This species lacks the elevated rim and the collar zone has the same colour.
C. cordata var. siamensis
coll. unknown, cult B 16
The collar is very high, almost reaching the margin of the limb.
C. pontederiifolia
coll. unknown, cult B 32
The whole spathe is very short, about 1,5 cm.
C. parva
coll. unknown, cult. B 47
This limb is ca. 25 cm long. The is no tube and the kettle is buried in the soil.
C. spiralis var. cognatoides
coll. Yadav327, cult. B 669
A number of species has a "tail", a thread form elongation of the limb, in this species bend forward after opening. This tail is ca. 15 cm.
C. longicauda
coll. unknown, cult. W 21
photo van Wijngaarden
Many species have a twisted limb of the spathe. Both the left and right hand twist occurs. This is normal but almost nobody notices it.
C. fusca
coll. Tomey, cult. W 20
photo van Wijngaarden
This limb has many turns and it can be even more.
C. retrospiralis
coll. _FW I08-04, cult. B 1211
But it can also been reduced to one or less.
C. crispatula var. yunnanensis
coll. TMK-01A, cult. B 1148
The surface of the limb of C. spiralis var. spiralis has more or less pronounced tranverse ridges. The margin of the limb has irregular outgrowths.
coll. Cook, cult B 554
This limb has very regular bulges. The swollen collar is typical for this species.
C. griffithii
coll. YS I-BISL, cult B 931
This limb is fully covered with irregular outgrowths.
C. nurii var. nurii
coll. KN IL-06, cult. B 1259
An unique feature, branched thread-like outgrowths along the margin. Only seen in C. ciliata.
coll. SW 0601, cult.B 1161
Also unique in Cryptocoryne are hairs. Seen in C. villosa.
coll. HK 0903, cult. B 1298
The spathe stands (mostly) on a short stalk, named the peduncle. In this case the plant was grown submerged. The ruler is in cm. C. usteriana
coll. Morco, cult. CK
photo Kettner

See also the Structure pages: Foliage, rhizome and roots, Inside the kettle and SEM pictures

Updated February 2016