Cryptocoryne alba de Wit
Cryptocoryne alba is known in several forms, with even green, green and brown marmorated leaves and also the smooth limb of the spathe may vary from pure white (hence its name) to yellowish, rosa and even deep red. There is however only one documented locality for C. alba near Yahawalatta in the South West of Sri Lanka and these plants flower with a white limb.Seen the variation in C. alba, one might assume that there must be more localities. In the same stream near Yahawalatta also grows C. waseri, a newly described species.

Click on the picture to get the full image (ca 50 kB)

The habitat of C. alba near Yahawalatta, Sri Lanka.
photo Waser
On the banks of the stream grows C. alba with green, marmorated green and brown marmorated leaves together.
photo Waser
A not flowering plant of C. alba with green marmorated leaves
coll. Waser 90-3, cult. B 576
De Wit (1975) described Cryptocoryne alba from an import. Note the slight twisted limb of the spathe.
coll. unknown, cult. B 247
       
This C. alba has bright green leaves, without any purple. Often the leaves have a fine undulated margin.Note the wide open, not twisted limb (rare).
coll. Waser 90-3, cult. B 576
This specimen of the same clone has a left turn of the spathe (this is rather common) and has a unusual opening of the limb.
coll. Waser 90-3, cult. B 576
Dark brown leaves. This one flowers also with a white limb.
coll. unknown, cult. B 632
Another C. alba with dark brown leaves but with a deep red limb of the spathe.
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 3172
photo Jacobsen
       
A somewhat swollen zone in the opening of the tube, not a distinct collar.
coll. FW, cult.CK
photo Kettner
A green marmorated leave and a distinct rose coloured limb of the spathe.
coll. unknown, cult. B 347
A red coloured limb and green leaves.
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 3081
photo Jacobsen
A yellowish limb of the spathe
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 3416
photo Jacobsen
       
alb-dram.jpg (7408 bytes)
A longitudinal section of the kettle. The kettle is somewhat restricted just below the male flowers. The entrance to the kettle is closed by the flap.
coll. unknown, cult B 247
The flap (valve) is wrapped around the male flowers, making the kettle accessible for small flies. Note the alveoli (depressions in the wall) opposite the male flowers.
coll. unknown, cult. B 347
Drawing in de Wit (1990) of the type specimen of C. alba. Compare it with the picture top right.
drawing Ike Zewald
Known distribution of C.alba in Sri Lanka.
       

In the group Cryptocoryne alba, C. thwaitesii and C. bogneri, C. alba certainly is the most easy plant to grow. It requires slight acid conditions. A mixture of beach tree soil or peat litter with a mineral soil will do, eventually with some clay. Also pure beech tree litter will do. These plants are of no importance for aquarists, for its impossible to keep them alive on the long term in a fish tank. Even very experienced growers have a lot of difficulties growing the latter two plants emerged. The habitats in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka are threatened.

Updated July 2012

Literature:

Arends, J.C., Bastmeijer, J.D. & Jacobsen, N., 1982, Chromosome numbers and taxonomy in Cryptocoryne (Araceae).II., Nord.J.Bot. 2 : 453-463.
Bastmeijer, J.D., C. Christensen & N. Jacobsen, 1984, Cryptocoryne alba und ihre Variationsbreite, Aqua-Planta 1-84 : 18-22.
Bastmeijer, J.D. & C. Kettner, 1993, Die Cryptocorynen von Yahalawatta (Sri Lanka), Aqua-Planta 1-93 : 30-31.
Bastmeijer, J.D., P. Babics & C. Kettner, 2012. Eine neue Cryptocoryne-Art (Araceae) aus Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Aqua Planta 37(2): 50-59.
Graaf, A. de & Arends, J.C., 1986, The occurrence of Cryptocoryne and Lagenandra (Araceae) on Sri Lanka, Nord.J.Bot. 6 : 757-764.
Hermsen, E.P., 1977, Cryptocorynen, Het Aquarium 47(11) : 282-287.
Jacobsen, N., 1976, Notes on Cryptocoryne of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Bot.Notiser 129 : 179-190.
Jacobsen, N., 1977, Chromosome numbers and taxonomy in Cryptocoryne (Araceae), Bot.Notiser 130 : 71-87.
Jacobsen, N., 1982, Cryptocorynen, Alfred Kernen Verlag, Stuttgart.
Jacobsen, N., 1987, Cryptocoryne, in: A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, Vol. VI: 85-99.
Kasselmann, C., 1995, Aquarienpflanzen, Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Möhlmann, F., 1987, Der Weisse Wasserkelch, Aquarien Magazin 21(11) : 436-438.
Möhlmann, F., 1993, Die Cryptocoryne-Arten Ceylons (1), Aqua-Planta 4-93 : 123-128.
Wit, H.C.D. de, 1975, Cryptocoryne alba de Wit (nov.sp.) en Cryptocoryne bogneri de Wit (nov.sp.), Het Aquarium 45(12) : 326-327.
Wit, H.C.D. de, 1990, Aquarienpflanzen, 2. Auflage, Ulmer, Stuttgart.