Cryptocoryne crispatula Engler var. crispatula

C. crispatula var. crispatula wasn't well understood until Takashige Idei (JP) investigated in the first decade of this era the Mekong river from northern Thailand, Laos to Cambodia. Besides different forms of what we interpret as var. crispatula, he also found the new var. decus-mekongensis and two new species: C. mekongensis and C. loeiensis. Zhou Hang (CN) found C. crispatula var. crispatula and var. planifolia in southern China. Prasartkul and Nonn (TH) visited the western part of Thailand. Jacobsen (DK) frequently visited central and peninsula Thailand with the focus on C. crispatula. Sando (TH) investigated also the central part of Thailand. Schwott (CZ) visited central Laos and Maxwell (TH) occasionally collected Cryptocoryne in Thailand and Cambodia. Many 'problems' have been cleared up; but there are still a lot of questions, not at least about the amazing number of suspected hybrids. From Vietnam aren't yet pictures available.

C. crispatula var. crispatula is a plant adapted to seasonal changes in water level, most extreme probably in the Mekong river where at some places the difference may be 5 - 10 meter! No light will pass the turbid water a that depth, the plants go dormant forming needle like (terete) leaves during the high water (see the C. loeiensis page for terete leaves). When the water resides they start growing again on the dried banks, fully exposed to the sun with surface temperatures over 40 C. They have stiff leaves, adapted for emergent growth.
In the rest of Thailand the conditions are not that extreme but in their flowering stage they always grow emerged.

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China / N Thailand.
High water in the Mekong at Chiang Khan, Loei prov. Thailand, at 16 August 2010
The plants on the river bed are dormant having small terete leaves.
photo Idei
Low water at 9 January 2010 at same spot. The water may drop 10 meter. Note the transverse rocky ridge, not visible at high water.
photo Idei
On sheltered places, between pebbles and rocks grow C. crispatula in several forms.Also C. loeiensis grows at such places.
photo Idei
A broad leaved C. crispatula var. crispatula grows together with a narrow leaved one.
photo Idei
       
The narrow leaved C. crispatula var. crispatula with a white limb of the spathe.
coll. TMK-02A
photo Idei
A cultivated 'broad leaved' C. crispatula var. crispatula. The spathe is short and thick. The limb may be more or less twisted, almost approaching these from C. crispatula var. yunnanensis.
coll. TMK 4309C, cult. B 1222
A longitudinal section of the spathe. The limb of the spathe is smooth, with the typical line pattern. The kettle has a transverse rim just over the male flowers.
coll. TMK 4309C, cult. B 1222
Zhou collected C. crispatula var. crispatula on the banks of the You river, W of Nanning, China
photo Zhou

     
Northern Thailand
Emerged growing plants form a carpet over the rocks, firmly attached in cracks. Near Phitsanulok.
coll. NJT01-2
photo Jacobsen
Close up of the leaves.
coll. NJT01-1
photo Jacobsen
The spathe of the Phitsanulok plant with the typical line markings on the limb.
coll. NJT01-1
photo Jacobsen
The leaves of C. crispatula var. crispatula may have a denticulate margin, seen in both the broad and narrow leaved forms.
coll. Tomey, cult. B 537-Wag 78372
       
Central Thailand
A closely twisted limb of the spathe before opening.
coll. NJT 02-33, cult. B903

After opening. The plant originates from the Saraburi province.
coll. NJT 02-33, cult. B903

The limb with the line markings.
coll. NJT 02-33, cult. B903
The opened kettle.
coll. NJT 02-33, cult. B903

       
Central Thailand
C. crispatula var. crispatula growing emerged on the banks of Bang Pa Kong river in the Nakhon Nayok Province.
photo Sando
The annual change in water level indicates that the plants will be fully submerged in the wet period.
photo Sando
Laos
Patches of C. crispatula var. crispatula at Tat Champee in the Don Hua N.P. in Laos.
photo Schwott
More C. crispatula var. crispatula is found at Tat Hua Khon, also from the Bolaven plateau in Laos.
photo Schwott
       
Laos
This C. crispatula var. crispatula from the '4000 islands' in S Laos has narrow, undulated leaves.
coll. LK 5542
photo Idei
In cultivation it doesn't have undulated margins. The long tube may indicate that it also flowers half submerged.
coll. LK 5602A, cult. B1272
The typical line markings on the limb of the spathe.
coll. LK 5602A, cult. B1272
A longitudinal section of the kettle.
coll. LK 5601A, cult. B 1385
       
Cambodia
Maxwell collected C. crispatula var. crispatula along the Mekong near Kratie.
coll. Maxwell 06-811
photo Maxwell
Ever described as the type for C. sinensis from the Kwansi province in China, it is now regarded as C. crispatula var. crispatula
coll. Morse 221
herbarium NY
Drawing of the TYPE of C. crispatula var. crispatula in de Wit (1993).
Note the bulge in the rhizome, apparently from the past season where after the plant became covered with new soil. Note also the 'aerial' root.
after Balansa 2043, N Vietnam
drawing Juliet Williamson
Distribution of C. crispatula var. crispatula.It is not certain if the E Indian / Bangla Desh plants should be better regarded as C. retrospiralis. Probably the plant is also common in S China, Myanmar and Cambodia.
       

Cryptocoryne crispatula var. crispatula is not well suited for the normal aquarium. In permanent emerged cultivation, the Mekong plants hold their seasonal character, starting growth in September and going down in June.

See the Crispatula group for an overview and for literature.

Updated July 2012