Cryptocoryne ferruginea Engler var. ferruginea

Cryptocoryne ferruginea var. ferruginea is medium sized Cryptocoryne of at most ca. 20 cm. Its leaves are even green, the lower sides more pale. Some local forms have a marmorated upper side of the leaf. The leaf margin can be finely undulated and adult specimen may be densely hairy, especially at the margin. Note the variation in the spathe. In 2013 Cryptocoryne ferruginea var. sekadauensis is described, as a new variety.

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In this fresh water tidal stream near Kuching grow C. ciliata, C. lingua and C. ferruginea var. ferruginea close to each other. photo Kettner A limestone area near Bau. On the bank a huge patch of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea
photo Karlick
A forest stream near Simunjan at low water with C. ferruginea var. ferruginea.
coll. FW-SK06-02
photo Waser
Close up of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea.
coll. FW-SK06-02
photo Waser
A flowering specimen found near Bau. Note the short, thick spathe and the narrow opening of the limb.
coll. NJS 04-6
photo Jacobsen
A rather slender spathe with a slight inflated kettle.
coll. NJS 04-13, cult. B 1245
With a relative long tube.
coll. FW 05-C3, cult. B 1128
With a very pronounced inflated kettle.
coll. NT 0420, cult. B 1249
Here you see one from Kalimantan with a wide open limb of the spathe
coll. SW09-x, cult. B 1329
Also from Kalimantan an even wider opened limb of the spathe. Note also the clear demarcation of the throat and the limb.
coll. NT-BO2, cult. B 1091
A part of the upper side of the leaf showing the hairs at the margin.
coll. NJS 04-13, cult. B 1245
A very unusual spathe of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea (it surely is!). The limb / tail is short and the whole resembles C. moehlmannii.
coll. NJ78-x, cult. B 296
A length section of the spathe. Inside fully purple coloured.
coll. & cult. NJS04-13
photo Jacobsen
The typical inflated kettle. Note the flap over the male flowers is 'closed' for entering insects.
coll. SW09-x, cult. B 1329
The male flowers with a purple margin.
coll. SW09-x, cult. B 1329
The circle with female flowers.
coll. NJS 04-13, cult. B 1245
Propagation of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea is by runners
coll. NJS 04-13, cult. B 1245
The original drawing of Beccari nr. 3983 in the journal Malesia from 1882 with a closed (= unripe) spathe. See also nr 2 in the next drawing. Drawing of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea. De Wit (1990) held the opinion that nrs 7 - 11 represent another species: C. sarawacensis.
drawing Ike Zewald
Distribution of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea is in western Sarawak and West Kalimantan. The close related C. fusca is far more spread in West and Central Kalimantan.

The known habitats of C. ferruginea var. ferruginea are streams / rivers with a strong tidal influence. That may happen for 50 or more km upstream, so it does not mean you have to be very close to the sea. It grows a bit more upstream than C. ciliata and C. lingua, but you can find them growing together (Jacobsen 1980, 1990).

Cultivating C. ferruginea var. ferruginea in the emerged way is rather easy. Just use a mixture of sand and peat litter or beech tree soil and they will do (slowly). Submersed is more difficult on the long term, probably due to the not appropriate soil.

C. ferruginea var. ferruginea is no doubt closely related to C. fusca. The former is known from the region between Bau and Simunjan. The latter grows in the Western and Central part of Kalimantan. Both may inhabit the fresh water tidal areas. Both have - in well developed plants - a very characteristic feature: the lower side of the leaves are (more or less densely) covered with hairs.

Some taxonomic history.
C. ferruginea var. ferruginea is described by Engler in 1879, based on material collected in Sarawak by Beccari. Not until 1966, plants collected by H. Ong (Kuching, Sarawak) were shipped to the Netherlands by Y.W. Ong from Singapore (van der Vlugt, 1969). De Wit was not aware of its true identity and had the opinion that is must be C. pontederiifolia - in that days a very poor known species from Sumatra, the herbarium material missing the inflorescence (de Wit 1971). Rataj gave the new plant a subspecies status: C. pontederiifolia spp. sarawacensis (Rataj 1975). After the discovery of the true inflorescence of C. pontederiifolia, Jacobsen renamed the plant as C. sarawacensis. In 1978, Jacobsen and Bogner traveled Sarawak and they rediscovered C. ferruginea in the fresh water tidal area (Jacobsen 1980, 1990). The 'new' plants fit the 'old' ones. See for more details the rather long list on literature.

See the impressive SEM pictures of the inflorescence of  C. ferruginea var. ferruginea by Ørgaard & Jacobsen on the Botanical page.

Updated December 2013


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., 1979. Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia. Info ZAG Wasserpflanzen 9/3 : 3-4.
Bastmeijer, J.D., H. Kishi, N. Takahashi, S.Wongso & N. Jacobsen, 2013. Eine neue Varietät
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Bastmeijer, J.D., H. Kishi, N. Takahashi, S.Wongso & N. Jacobsen, 2013. A new variety of Cryptocoryne ferrruginea Engl. from Sekadau, West Kalimantan province, Indonesia. The Aquatic Gardener 26(4): 33-38.
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