Cryptocoryne cognata Schott

In the years 1989 to 1992, Yadav, Patil and Dixit, botanists of the Shivaji University, Kolhapur, made investigations in the Maharastra State of India. They rediscovered the famous Cryptocoryne cognata in the Ratnagiri district, the former 'Konkan', which was only known from two collections made 150 years earlier. The plant was recollected in 1998 by Mariska te Beest.

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

Patches of Cryptocoryne cognata in their natural environment. As Patil cs. (1992) reported, they grow rather shaded.
photo S.R. Yadav
The opened limb is twisted. Note the the collar and yellow throat with purple spots. The spathe reaches up to 30 cm.
photo S.R. Yadav
Flowering specimens on the riverbanks. The lower part of the spathe is deeply buried into the ground, only the tube and limb of the spathe are exposed.
photo S.R. Yadav
Patil cs. (1992) mentions that the fission of the tube (the seem) is not firm, only slight pressed together or, as shown here, more or less open. Note that just below the collar, the throat is yellow with purple spots.
photo S.R. Yadav
       
Stream in South West India with an abundant grow of C. cognata.
photo te Beest
Close up of the locality with C. cognata in very shallow water.
photo te Beest
A collected specimen of C. cognata. The long side of the triangle is 16 cm.
photo te Beest
Though this picture isn't sharp, it gives a good idea of the variation in the limb of C. cognata. The two spathes at right are widely opened. Note the long lower part of the tube (the kettle).
photo te Beest
       
A cultivated specimen in the Botanical Garden Munich. Note that at least the half of the (very long) kettle is buried in the ground.
photo Bogner
Another picture from Munich. Note the neatly opened upper part of the 'tail' of the limb.
photo Bogner
The limb of the spathe might be twisted one or more times. The limb is mostly opened for at least two thirds of its length, the upper part remains sometimes closed (as a tail). In culture, the spathe easily reach 20 cm. Cathaphyls are very prominent and may reach up to 13 cm. A length section of the kettle and tube of C. cognata. The kettle reach up to 5 cm. Note the broadened part at the male flowers. Inside there is a extremely long naked part of the spadix. C. cognata has contractile roots like C. spiralis. Both species have their lower part of the kettle deep in the ground.
       
A length section of the tube of C. cognata. The spots inside the tube are irregular, sometimes at the top of the tube, the spots run together into an even purple color. The fusion of the tube is not perfect, but in culture the tube was always closed (the left side in the picture is the fusion line).
Above the collar there are pronounced ridges on the lower part of the limb.
De Wit (1960, 1990) gives a very fine description and drawing of C. cognata, mainly based on the famous 'Schott drawings' at Vienna (A). De Wit remarks that the kettle is as wide as the tube.
drawing Ike Zewald
Te Beest recently made collections of C. cognata.This drawing in found in Te Beest (1998).
drawing te Beest
Distribution of C. cognata near Ratnagiri in Maharashtra State in India. There are only two recent new localities known, so the species must be regarded as endangered! (Patil 1992). Remains the miracle that this species is found after 150 years!
       

Cryptocoryne cognata is seldom seen in culture. That is not because the plant is difficult to cultivate, on the contrary. Moreover, the plant is not sensitive for many diseases. The problem is that C. cognata don't make runners. In about eight years of cultivation, I had no one runner. Its not known whether or not C. cognata is appropriate for aquaria.
C. cognatoides Blatter & McCann has nothing to do with C. cognata, and is currently regarded as a variety of C. spiralis.

Updated March 2002

Literature:

Beest, M. te, 1998. A taxonomic study of the genus Cryptocoryne (Araceae) of South India. University of Calicut.
Patil,K.S., S.R.Yadav, G.B.Dixit & J.Bogner, 1992. Eine lang verschollene Cryptocoryne aus Indien: Cryptocoryne cognata Schott (Araceae). Aqua-Planta 2-92 : 59-65.
Schott, H.W., 1857. Cryptocorynenskizze. Bonplandia 5(14): 219-223.
Wit, H.C.D.de, 1960. Het genus Cryptocoryne 12, Cryptocoryne cognata Schott, Cryptocoryne cognatoides Blatter & McCann. Het Aquarium 31(2): 31-32.
Wijngaarden, P. van, 2004. Cryptocoryne cognata Schott. Aqua Planta 29(3): 98-107.
Wit, H.C.D.de, 1990. Aquarienpflanzen, 2. Auflage. Ulmer, Stuttgart.