Cryptocoryne griffithii Schott

Cryptocoryne griffithii was first collected by William Griffith, as long ago as in 1863. Much confusion arose because of a wrong interpretation of a plant sent by Ridley from Singapore to the Kew Gardens at the start of the last century, which actually was a C. ´purpurea nothovar. purpurea. Later on, German aquarium keepers used this name for what should be named C. cordata var. cordata. De Wit (1990) gives an overview of these problems. Today, the known distribution of C. griffithii has found to be from South Johore (Malay peninsula) and Singapore via Bintan to Kalimantan (Indonesia). Very interesting is that both in Johore and in Kalimantan, hybrids exists with plants of the C. cordata complex. For the aquarium keeper all this discussions are of not much help, C. griffithii is a difficult to grow plant and not suited for the standard aquarium.

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

Malacca ?(W. Malaysia)  The 'classical' C.griffithii with a regularly rugose surface of the limb, a pronounced narrow collar and a short tail. Probably collected near the type locality in Malacca.
Coll. van Liet s.n.
photo de Wit
The original plant as collected by Griffith near Malacca. Note the excellent condition of the herbarium sheet  after nearly 150 years!
Coll. Griffith 6012 (AD 1863)
herbarium New York Botanical Garden (NY)
Drawing in de Wit (1990) shows all the features of the 'classical' C. griffithii
drawing Ike Zewald
The opened lower part of the tube (kettle) of the Malacca(?) C. griffithii.
Coll. van Liet s.n.
photo van Bruggen (AD 1961)
Johore (W. Malaysia). A small ditch in a rubber tree plantation. Even in very shallow water rather big leeches (15 cm up) live as the man in the foreground could tell you. Thanks to Oriental Aquarium (SG). The same locality as left. One big patch of C. griffithii grows in only 10 - 20 cm water .
Coll. Bastmeijer 799
The same locality as left.  Note the green upper side and the - typical - pale reddish to rosa lower side of the leaves.
Coll. Bastmeijer 799
Johore (W. Malaysia). This one lacks the tail like end of the limb. The leaves are more narrow and are often marmorated.
Coll. Jacobsen NJ 85-30
photo Jacobsen
Johore (W. Malaysia).A 'manually opened' limb of the spathe of C. griffithii. The leaves are typical for the 'classical' form. In an old rubber plantation.
Coll. Jacobsen NJ 85-31
photo Jacobsen
Johore (W. Malaysia).Most  collections of C. griffithii  are from the very South West of Johore. Josef Bogner found this one near Mersing, East Johore.
Coll. Bogner 1944
photo Bogner
Bintan (Indonesia). Rather recently, Sasaki from Japan collected C. griffithii on the island of Bintan, South of Singapore.
Coll. Sasaki I-BISP
photo Sasaki
The limb of the spathe of the Bintan  C. griffithii is very close to these from the Mersing and Singapore plants.
Coll. Ueno s.n.
photo Ueno
Singapore. This impressive picture of C. griffithii is made in the Nee Soon Swamp Reserve.
photo Chan Sow Yan
A collection of spathe's of C. griffithii from the Nee Soon Swamp in Singapore.
photo Chan Sow Yan
C. griffithii grows also along the reservoirs in Singapore in the suburbs of the town.
Coll. Bastmeijer 806
Herbarium sheet of C. griffithii collected by Ridley in the Woods reservoir  in Singapore in1898!
Coll. Ridley s.n.
herbarium Singapore (SING)
Kalimantan (Indonesia). This a stream south of the airport of Banjarmasin. The rest of what once was a rainforest. C. griffithii grows not far from here.
photo Snijders
Kalimantan (Indonesia) This C. griffithii was collected south of Banjarmasin (the color is a bit false due to copying).
Coll. v.d. Nieuwenhuizen s.n.
photo van den Nieuwenhuizen
A typical stream in the virgin rainforest around Sampit, South Kalimantan. The water level is low which has two advantages: more inflorescences and easy access.
photo Sasaki
The spathe of 'near Sampit' C. griffithii. In the same stream there also grows C. cordata var. grabowskii and the hybrid between them C. ´purpurea nothovar. borneoensis.
Coll. Sasaki I-SAKK3
photo Sasaki
A cultivated specimen with a less 'normal' limb of the spathe, a bit twisted.
Unknown locality, Jacobsen NJ 3052
photo Jacobsen
A red limb of the spathe with the same structure as left.
Unknown locality, Jacobsen NJ 2805
photo Jacobsen
A cultivated specimen with a very dark limb of the spathe.
Unknown locality, Jacobsen NJ 2861
photo Jacobsen
A less regular rugose surface of the limb.
Unknown locality, Jacobsen NJ 3044
photo Jacobsen
A page of the greenhouse entry book of the Wageningen university (NL) from 1975. It deals with a shipment by R.A. Gasser (USA), see the picture at right.
notes by Ike Zewald
A more deviating specimen with a long(er) tail and a different surface of the limb.
Unknown locality, Gasser T 81
photo Gasser
Distribution of C. griffithii in the Malay Peninsula (Malacca, Johore Singapore and Bintan). Today there are only a very few localities left. Distribution of C. griffithii in Kalimantan (Indonesia).

Cryptocoryne griffithii has been imported (at least in Europe) very often since the 1950's. It is assumed that all these plants originated from Singapore and were primarily shipped by Yeok Ong, who collected them in the Singapore reservoirs. Later on the Oriental firm, Singapore, shipped plants from Johore. However, I found out that all early references to C. griffithii in the European hobby literature, actually deal with C. ´purpurea nothovar. purpurea or C. cordata var. cordata. Also plants from Lake Bera in W. Malaysia are often referred as C. griffithii but actually are also plants of C. ´purpurea nothovar. purpurea.
An important note is that C. griffithii is regarded as one of the parents of the hybrid C. ´purpurea nothovar. purpurea from W. Malaysia, the other parent being C. cordata var. cordata (Jacobsen 1982). The recent discovery of C. griffithii in Kalimantan and C. cordata var. grabowskii together with the hybrid C. ´purpurea nothovar. borneoensis by Yuji Sasaki, is a great improvement of the knowledge of this hybrid complex (Jacobsen et al, 2002). 

Updated January 2003


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