Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia Schott

Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia is a plant with an interesting hsitory - if you like that, read the story below. It proved to be an excellent aquarium plant, today mass cultivated and sold all over the world.

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Habitat of C. pontederiifolia in the Utara (North) province in Sumatra
coll. Wongso SW 0406
photo Wongso
Another habitat of C. pontederiifolia in the Atjeh province in Sumatra
coll. Wongso SW 0407
photo Wongso
Plants from the Tabakis locality (Padang, West Sumatra). Note the pale reddish lower side of the leaves.
coll. Jacobsen NJ 85-29
photo Jacobsen
Low water in a stream in the Leuser Park in North Sumatra. Big patches of C. pontederiifolia around the trees.
coll. Wilde 20857
photo de Wilde
Submersed grown plants of
C. pontederiifolia with the blades near the surface.
coll. unknown
photo van Bruggen
Aquarium picture with C. pontederiifolia in the centre. Note the slight bullate leaves
coll. unknown
photo van Wijngaarden
An emerged grown plant with a brownish tint on the leaves.
coll .Nakomoto IS-01, cult. B 1349
photo Bastmeijer
Another emerged cultivated specimen with a reddish lower side of the leaves. Mostly the plants have a pale green lower side.
coll. Bogner 1739, cult W 13 - B 601
photo van Wijngaarden
Variation in the limb of the spathe of C. pontederiifolia. The collar is extreme high. The limb is slight twisted. The spathe can reach 10 cm length.This is the 'classical' form, widespread in cultivation.
coll. unknown, cult. B 32
photo Bastmeijer
A form with a less pronounced collar and with red dots on the limb.
coll .Wongso SW 0407, cult B 1093
photo Bastmeijer
Another plant from Wongso's collections shows distinct red dots on both the limb and the collar zone.
coll .Wongso SW 0406, cult..B 1092
photo Bastmeijer
Only a few plants from Jacobsen's NJ 85-29 collection showed an even red collar zone and limb of the spathe.
coll. Jacobsen NJ 85-29, cult. B 529
photo Bastmeijer
A form found in the Leuser Reserve in North Sumatra with a deep red, rather narrow limb of the spathe.
coll. Wilde 20857, cult. NJ3293
photo Jacobsen
Occasionally you will see an oblique twisted limb in C. pontederiifolia.
coll. Wongso SW0407, cult. B1093
photo Bastmeijer
The kettle of C. pontederiifolia has a constriction in the upper part (this is seen in much more species) and verical grooves in the lower part. The kettle wall is somewhat translucent. Exactly as in C. moehlmannii.
coll. Nakamoto IS-01, cult. B 1349
photo Bastmeijer
Close up of the female flowers of C. pontederiifolia. Note the typical small red dots, giving at some distance an orange impression.
coll. Kishi 09-04, cult. B 1299
photo Bastmeijer
Holotype of C. pontederiifolia from 1833 (!) near Padang
coll. Korthals 224
National Herbarium Leiden
Niels Jacobsen discovered in the old Korthals plant an immature spathe between the cataphyls.
coll. Korthals 244
drawing Bent Johnsen
De Wit (1990) gives a nice drawing of C. pontederiifolia.
drawing Ike Zewald and Juliet Williamson
Known distribution of C. pontederiifolia.

The by Korthals in West Sumatra collected plants which were described by Schott 1863 as Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia. Unfortunately the plants were sterile and this would cause a lot of confusion.
Around 1975, crypts imported from 'Java' flowered at with a distinct yellow limb of the spathe. De Wit (1976) described them as a new species 'C. sulphurea'. In the same time, When C. ferruginea was found on Borneo, and not recognized to be this species, one thought it might be C. pontederiifolia. Nobody knew that time the existence of a close related species from West Sumatra: C. moehlmannii. Herbarium material of this species was labeled as C. pontederiifolia. Rataj found an inflorescence in it but he did not recognize it as new.
When Jacobsen (1982) discovered an immature spathe in the holotype of C. pontederiifolia which proved to be the same as that from 'C. sulphurea' , so it was clear that the latter has to be regarded as a synonym. Some years later De Wit described C. moehlmannii based on cultivated material.

In the past decade much more plants were found in Sumatra showing the variation in the spathe of C. pontederiifolia. You see an almost continuous series from bright yellow to purple red, the latter named C. moehlmannii

Both species, C. pontederiifolia and C. moehlmannii are excellent aquarium plants and grow very well in a simple tank.

Note. Rataj (1975) described a new species: C bogneri, which too has a bright yellow limb of the spathe. In some early articles both species are interchanged.

Updated July 2012


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Bastmeijer, J.D. & B.E.E. Duyfjes. 1997. Zwei Cryptocorynen aus dem Gunung-Leuser-Nationalpark (Sumatra, Indonesien), 2. Teil. Cryptocoryne moehlmannii De Wit. Aqua-Planta 2-97 : 43-50.
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