the crispatula group

In 2016 the C. crispatula var's are: balansae, crispatula, decus-mekongensis, flaccidifolia, kubotae, planifolia, tonkinensis and yunnanensis. This is based on differences in the leaf and in the spathe, especially the markings on the limb. As there is a broad range in these characters, it is sometimes arbitrary to name a variety. With this in mind it is the best solution.
The Cryptocoryne crispatula group consists of the 8 var's of C. crispatula together with C. albida and C. retrospiralis.  The other (more or less narrow) linear leaved species from the mainland Asia, C. consobrina, C. cruddasiana, C. loeiensis, C. mekongensis, C. sivadasanii and also C. spiralis are shown here to facilitate the comparison. The key's provided by Jacobsen for the crispatula group are included, and also the references.

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

C. crispatula var. balansae is the only one with bullated leaves which may be up to 4 cm broad.
coll. NJT02-12, cult. B878
C. crispatula var. crispatula has narrow leaves with (mostly) an undulated margin. The leaves stand upright even when emerged.
coll. & cult. NJ 77-36
photo Jacobsen

C. crispatula var. decus-mekongensis has a broad white limb of the spathe covered with red dots.
coll. LK5507F, cult B 1226
C. crispatula var. flaccidifolia has long, mostly undulated leaves. When emerged they don't stand upright.
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 2984
photo Jacobsen

C. crispatula var. kubotae has very narrow, soft leaves which hardly stand upright when emerged.
leg. Schöpfel, cult. B 1303
C. crispatula var. planifolia has broad smooth leaves with a red lower side. The spathe is fully white, both inside as outside.
coll. ZH2010-01
photo Zhou
C. crispatula var. tonkinensis with long, stiff, narrow leaves, the China form reddish, with an undulated margin, in Vietnam with more greenish smooth leaves.
coll. ZH2012
photo Zhou
C. crispatula var. yunnanensis has relative short stiff leaves like the var. crispatula. The spathe is distinct.
coll.& cult. Bogner
photo Gerlach

Other narrow leaved Cryptocoryne from mainland Asia

C. albida from Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand has rather broad, lanceolate leaves from green to brown and a wide open first twist of the limb of the spathe.
coll. NJT02-01, cult. B866

C. consobrina from India is recently recollected but till now not in cultivation. It has a rough limb of the spathe.
coll. Sunil
photo Sunil
C. cruddasiana is from northern Myanmar (Burma). The spathe is very distinct with transverse rims.
coll. Murata 041201, cult. B1192
C. loeiensis from the Mekong river in northern Thailand grows in mixed populations with C. crispatula var. crispatula. It differs by having a rough red-brown limb of the spathe.
coll. T2, cult. B 1145a

C. mekongensis is from the Mekong river in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. It has a typical collar and a more or less twisted limb of the spathe with pronounced transverse rims.
coll. LK5608G2, cult. B1275
C. retrospiralis from India is quite like C. crispatula var. crispatula but differs in details of the limb, having red dots in stead of lines.
coll. Bogner, cult. B1055
C. sivadasanii is found in Kerala, India. In nature it has a seasonal character but it grows for over years in the aquarium without any dormancy.
coll. & photo Raj
C. spiralis from India is quite distinct by its spathe. The variation in the leaves very big. Submerged forms may have narrow flaccid leaves.
coll. Cook, cult. B 1165
For the aquarist the crispatula group splits into two parts. In the first part are the plants which grow always submerged in shallow water, these have flaccid leaves: C. crispatula var. balansae, C. crispatula var. flaccidifolia, C. crispatula var. tonkinensis and C. crispatula var. planifolia. These are well suited fro the aquarium.

In the other part are plants with a seasonal character, due to changes in the water level. They grow emerged in the dry season, mostly in full sun and go dormant at the seasonal high water, for example, water levels in the Mekong river may rise 5 - 10 m. They form short 'monsoon leaves', terete leaves which are reduced to the main vein. These plants are: C. crispatula var crispatula, C. crispatula var. decus-mekongensis, C. crispatula var. kubotae and C. crispatula var. yunnanensis.

This adaptation is also seen in C. cruddasiana, C. loeiensis, C. mekongensis and even in C. retrospiralis. As far as I know, C. albida does not show any dimorphism.

C. crispatula var. balansae / flaccidifolia are very popular aquarium plants. From the rest mentioned here, var. tonkinensis, C. albida and C. spiralis are rare in the aquarium hobby.

All plants of the 'crispatula group' are easy to cultivate. Most grow in a calcium rich environment, limestone, and will prefer hard or at least neutral water.

See Jacobsen's key for the albida / crispatula group. (1991)

Updated January 2016


anonymous, 1976. Cryptocoryne sinensis Merrill. Monographia Cormophytorum  Sinirorum 5 : 373.
anonymous, 1979. Cryptocoryne yunnanensis H.Li. Flora Republicae Popularis Sinicae, Tomus 13(2):39.
Arends, J.C., Bastmeijer, J.D. & Jacobsen, N., 1982. Chromosome numbers and taxonomy in Cryptocoryne (Araceae).II. Nord.J.Bot. 2 : 453-463.
Beest, M. te, 1998. A taxonomic study of the genus Cryptocoryne (Araceae) of South India. Thesis Dep. of Botany, Univ. of Calicut.
Bogner, J., 1998. Cryptocoryne crispatula Engler var. sinensis (Merrill) N. Jacobsen. Aqua Planta 23(3) : 120-122.
Engler, A., 1920.(Cryptocoryne, Lagenandra in) Das Pflanzenreich IV.23.F. Araceae - Aroideae : 232-249, Leipzig.
Gagnepain, F., 1941. Aracees nouvelles Indochinoises. Not.Syst.9, 3 : 131-134. (Document servicve)
Gagnepain, F., 1942. Cryptocoryne Fisch. Flore generale de l'Indo-Chine : 1191-1195. (Document servicve)
Graaf,, 1980. Cryptocoryne crispatula Engler. Het Aquarium 50(17) : 527.
Hertel, I. & H.Mühlberg. 2009 Cryptocoryne crispatula Engler in Vietnam. AF 209 (41-5): 74-79.
Horst, K., 1986. Pflanzen im Aquarium. Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Idei, T., J.D. Bastmeijer & N. Jacobsen, 2010. Geschichten vom Mekong: Zwei neue Cryptocorynen (Araceae). Aqua-Planta 35(4): 139-146 (see the Document service, included an English translation)
Jacobsen, N., 1977. Chromosome numbers and taxonomy in Cryptocoryne (Araceae). Bot.Notiser 130 : 71-87.
Jacobsen, N., 1980. The Cryptocoryne albida group of mainland Asia Misc.papers LH (Araceae). Wageningen 19 : 183-204.
Jacobsen, N., 1982. Cryptocorynen, Alfred Kernen Verlag, Stuttgart.
Jacobsen, N., 1986. Deterioration of the habitats of the Cryptocoryne species. Symp.Bedreiging van het aquatisch milieu, Ludwigia, Wageningen : 33
Jacobsen, N., 1991. Die schmallblättrigen Cryptocorynen des asiatischen Festlandes. Aqua-Planta 1-91 : 2-33.
Jacobsen, N., J.D.Bastmeijer, J. Bogner, V.D. Nguyen, Q.B. Hong & M. Ørgaard. 2015. The identity of Cryptocoryne crispatula var. tonkinensis (Araceae). Willdenowia 45(2) 177-182. (Document service)
Jacobsen, N.,J. Bogner, V.D. Nguyen, Q.B. Hong & M. Ørgaard. 2015. Einige Fundorte von Cryptocoryne crispatula (Araceae) im nordlichen Vietnam. Aqua Planta 40(3): 93-104. (Document service, included an English translation)
Jacobsen, N., J.D. Bastmeijer, B. Bongcheewin, T. Idei, D. Sookchaloem & M. Ørgaard. 2015. A new variety of Cryptocoryne crispatula Engl. (Araceae) from Thailand. Thai Forest Bulletin (Bot.) 43: 104-110. (Document service)

Kasselmann, C., 1995., Aquarienpflanzen. Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Li, H., 1977. Cryptocoryne. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 15(2): 108.
Li, H., 1979. Cryptocoryne. Flora Republicae Popularis Sinicae 13(2) : 197-200.
Li, H. & N. Jacobsen, 2010. Cryptocoryne in the Flora of China, Vol. 23: 20-22. (download)
Mekong River Commission (for water heights and predictions) at:
Mühlberg, H., 1980. Das grosse Buch der Wasserpflanzen. Dausien, Hanau.
Mühlberg, H. & I. Hertel, 2007. Cryptocoryne crispatula (Araceae) in Vietnam. Schlechtendalia 16: 19-31.
Paffrath, K., 1970. Ein anspruchsvoller Pflegling, Cryptocoryne balansae. Aq.Terr. 1970/9 : 300-304.
Paffrath, K., 1972. Ein seltener Wasserkelch, Cryptocoryne retrospiralis. Aq.Terr. 1972/7 : 231-234. Paffrath, K., 1976. Cryptocoryne balansae (Pflanzenportrait). Aqua Planta 2-76 : beilage.
Rataj, K., 1975. Revision of the genus Cryptocoryne Fischer. Studie CSAV, c.3.Praha.
Rataj, K. & Horeman, T.J., 1977. Aquarium Plants. TFH Publ, USA.
Sadilek, V., 1969. Neue Cryptocorynen VI - Cryptocoryne longispatha Merrill. DATZ 22 : 244-246.
Schulze, J., 1967. Beobachtungen über Wasserpflanzen in einigen südostasiatischen Ländern I-IV. DATZ 20 : 211-215, 248-252, 279-282.
öpfel, H., 1995. Der gekrauselte Wasselkelch, Cryptocoryne crispatula. Das Aquarium 313(7): 22-26. (Document service, only in German)
Tomey, W.A., 1966. Ervaringen met Cryptocoryne balansae. Het Aquarium 36(10) :228-230.
Wit,, 1959. Het genus Cryptocoryne (8). Het Aquarium 30(2) : 36-40.
Wit,, 1970. A key to the species of Cryptocoryne Fish.ex  Wydl.(Araceae). Misc.papers LH Wageningen 6 : 257-280.
Wit,, 1990. Aquarienpflanzen, 2. Auflage. Ulmer, Stuttgart.

Zhou, H., 2005. Cryptocoryne crispatula Engler in der Provinz Guangxi, China. Aqua Planta 30(4): 150-157. (see the Document service, included an English translation)
Zhou, H., H.W. He & N. Jacobsen, 2010. Eine neue Varietät der Cryptocoryne crispatula Engler (Araceae) aus der Provinz Guangxi, China. Aqua Planta 35(4): 134-138. (see the Document service, included an English translation)