Cryptocoryne retrospiralis (Roxburgh) Kunth

Cryptocoryne retrospiralis grows mainly on the west coast of India, disjunctive from C. crispatula. The same area for C. spiralis. Not flowering specimens of C. retrospiralis are difficult to distinguish from C. spiralis var. spiralis as both have similar, stiff  leaves. The spathe however is totally different. The difference between C. retrospiralis and C. crispatula var. crispatula is even smaller, the main point are the markings inside the limb of the spathe being more line shaped in the latter. Also the terete leaves (the chives form) in C. retrospiralis ) are also found in C. crispatula. Though C. retrospiralis is known for more than 150 years, little is known about the variation in this species and its habitat.

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Locality of Cryptocoryne retrospiralis in the Malappuram district (Kerala state, India).
photo te Beest
Close up of the riverbank with emerged growing plants in December.
photo te Beest
Another close up of the river bank with C. retrospiralis.
photo te Beest
Yet another locality with C. retrospiralis.
photo te Beest
       
Habitat of C. retrospiralis in India. This plant has rather narrow leaves.
coll. Bogner 1852
photo Bogner
The same habitat (as left) of C. retrospiralis. This very tiny form grows together with a Lagenandra toxicaria (?).
coll. Bogner 1852
photo Bogner
Another habitat of C. retrospiralis. The limb of the spathe is relative short.
coll. Bogner 517
photo Bogner
Herbarium leaves: A, B: C. retrospiralis; C, D: C. albida; E: C. crispatula var. flaccidifolia; F, G: var. crispatula; H, J, K: var. balansae and I: var. tonkinensis.
photo Jacobsen
       
C. retrospiralis has a dormant phase with terete leaves of ca. 5 -10 cm long (chives form). This is also known in C. crispatula var. crispatula and var. yunnanensis.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
The terete leaves don't have a distinct petiole. Transverse sections of the top, middle and lower part of the leaf.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
Flowering starts usually immediately when the plant get out of the dormant stage. The elderly leaves in the picture are typical terete.
coll. unknown, cult. Blass s.n.
photo Blass
A non flowering specimen, also showing the transition of terete. to 'normal' leaves.
coll. unknown, cult. Kasselmann s.n.
photo Kasselmann
       
C. retrospiralis has green, smooth leaves with a very prominent mid vein, exposed on the lower side of the leaf.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
The plant grows very fast, in two months the pot is overcrowded and the leaves are up to 50 cm long and 1 cm wide. It may go dormant again after a few months!
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
Smooth green leaves without any purple.
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 2971
photo Jacobsen
The limb of the spathe of C. retrospiralis (same plant left).
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 2971
photo Jacobsen
       
The limb of the spathe of C. retrospiralis  with more or less rounded dark spots.
coll. unknown, cult. NJ 3130
photo Jacobsen
C. retrospiralis has rounded spots on the limb while C. crispatula have line shaped markings on the limb.
coll. unknown, cult. NJ
photo Jacobsen
The limb may start opening from the top ...
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
... or somewhat lower as is the case here.. 
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
       
The top of the limb may end in an oblique position.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
The spotted inner side of the limb.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
More spots.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
Opened kettle of C. retrospiralis. Note the prominent constriction in the wall and the depressions (alveoli) opposite to the male flowers.
coll. unknown, cult. B 1055
       
Drawing in Engler (1920) of C. retrospiralis. Note again the extreme spiraled limb of the spathe. Drawing in te Beest (1998) of C. retrospiralis
De Wit (1990) gives a picture of a rather broad leafed C. retrospiralis. The limb of the spathe is strongly spirally twisted.
drawing Ike Zewald
Distribution of C. retrospiralis on mainland Asia.
       

C. retrospiralis is because of its seasonal character not well suited for the aquarium.
The dormant phase is probably an adaptation to submerged conditions at low light levels (like seen in C. crispatula). When the water goes down and the plants become emerged, they thrive very fast. May be there exist also strains which do not have this seasonal character.
In emerged culture, the dormant phase is from mid-summer to February. In this phase they easily stand at 15 degree centigrade in wintertime. Off March, April they boost and accept full sun with temperatures up to 35 degree.
C. retrospiralis is offered frequently in pet shops. Probably these plants are actually C. crispatula var. flaccidifolia, which is very suitable for the aquarium.

For reference to the other plants and the literature see the page on the crispatula group.

Updated July 2012