Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler

At this moment (end 2001), there are four slight different plants known as Cryptocoryne usteriana. First the plant collected by Josef Bogner on Guimaras (Philippines) in1983 (Bogner 1644). This one is widespread in Europe. Second, a plant from Russia, shipped by Alexei Bednii, from an unknown origin. Third, a plant brought by Claus Christensen, originating from or near Cebu. Fourth, plants collected by Morco in Guimaras (Philippines) and frequently shipped to Europe.The plants are referred here as "Bogner, Bednii, Christensen and Morco" for ease. All plants are very easy to cultivate and are good aquarium plants.

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Cryptocoryne usteriana  (a Bogner 1644 descendant) is cultivated emersed under high humidity and artificial light. The bullated leaves are in respect to the other plants rather narrow (5 cm). The lower side of the leaves may be in part purple.
coll. Bogner1644, cult. B580
The limb of the spathe is deep yellow with at most some brownish glow near the edge, the top is narrowed and a bit twisted. The surface is slight uneven, the border have some small bulges. There is no collar.The throat has the same color as the limb and has, as usual, a smooth texture.
coll. Bogner1644, cult. B580
A length cut through the kettle. Note the yellow cap above the male flowers. The lower half of the kettle is somewhat broadened. This is not always seen in C. usteriana. The naked part of the spadix is mostly slight longer than seen in this picture. Note the pronounced stigma's.
coll. Bogner1644, cult. B580
Herbarium sheet of C. usteriana. Bogner collected this plant (only 5 cm!) on Guimaras in 1983 (Bogner 1644) and he was in doubt if he had collected C. pygmaea. It was a great surprise that these plants developed bullated leaves and have a yellow limb of the spathe (see top row).
coll. Bogner1644
       
In the 1990's there was a report from Russia on a new giant, broad leafed C. usteriana. It was said that the plant originates from Wladiwostok, where it was brought by a sailor (from Vietnam??). The leaves are bright green on both sides (up to 10 cm wide), the limb of the spathe bright yellow.
coll. hort., cult. Kovalev
photo Kovalev
A picture of both the spathe and a leaf of the Russian C. usteriana. Thanks to Alexei Bednii, we cultivate this plant in the Netherlands. Under equal conditions, this plant may develop a partly reddish lower side of the leaves.
coll. hort., cult. Kovalev
photo Kovalev
The limb of the spathe may have some brownish hue. At best this form is color like the Bogner plant, but is about twice as big.
coll. hort., cult. Bednii
photo Bednii
The kettle has a broadened lower part, which is not unusual in C. usteriana. Remarkable for this inflorescence is the circle with eight female flowers, what is seldom seen in Cryptocoryne, but it is not a typical character.
coll. hort., cult. Bednii
photo Bednii
       
In 1994, Claus Christensen (Tropica, Denmark) got a new Cryptocoryne usteriana from the Philippines. 'It was said' the plant was collected in or near Cebu. In cultivation the plant is less bullate and may develop brownish leaves with a more or less red lower side.
coll. hort. cult, NJ 2116
photo Jacobsen
This C. usteriana flowered at Copenhagen. with the limb of the spathe strongly brownish, but depending on conditions it may be slight brown (see below).
coll. hort. cult, NJ 2116
photo Jacobsen
Inspired by the reports on the Bogner plant, Morco found another C. usteriana in Guimaras. This one has the upper side of the leaves dark green/bronze/brown colored with mostly a deep red lower side. This picture is made at his plant farm in Luzon.
coll. & cult. Morco
The limb of the spathe of the 'Morco' plant is more or less brownish, like the Christensen plant.
coll.Morco, cult. B756
       
Leaves of young plants, left the 'Morco' plant, at right the 'Bogner' plant.
cult. B756 (left) and B580 (right)
Upside down,  left the 'Bogner' plant, at right the 'Morco' plant.
cult. B580 (left) and B756 (right)
An opened lower part of the inflorescence (the kettle) of the 'Morco' plant.
coll.Morco, cult. B756
Another kettle of the 'Morco' plant to see the variation in one form.
coll.Morco, cult. B756
photo van Bruggen
       
The limb of the spathe of the 'Christensen' plant with a slight brown limb of the spathe.
coll. hort. cult, B755 (=NJ 2116)
Part of the herbarium sheet of C. usteriana at Berlin. This is the type, collected by Usteri in 1903 and described by Engler (1905).
coll. Usteri 965
photo K. Liedl
De Wit (1990) joined drawings of C. aponogetifolia (the linear leafed plant at left) and C. usteriana (ovate leaves at right) together in one picture. Until 1983 (before the famous collection of Bogner) most botanist believed both species were identical. De Wit doubted 30 years, and it turned out he was alright.
drawing Ike Zewald
C. usteriana is known from the small island Guimaras, SW of Panay island in the Philippines (enclosed in the red circle). Localities on Panay island (where also C. aponogetifolia is (was?) to be found?) and Cebu island are not fully certain.
       
A short  usteriana story. For decades there was the opinion that C. aponogetifolia and C. usteriana were synonyms, see the arguments in de Wit (1990). De Wit always kept his doubt on this. In 1983, Josef Bogner from Botanical Gardens Munich, collected a tiny plant on the Guimaras isle (Philippines). When it flowered at Möhlmann, it proved the identity of Cryptocoryne usteriana and Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia as two different species. Later collections (named here Bednii, Christensen and Morco) showed that there is some variation in the species. Another C. usteriana found by Christensen from Panay is not in cultivation. See for comparison the table below (rather arbitrarily). The data refer to emersed cultivated specimen.
max leaf width (cm) lower leaf color red limb brown spatha length (cm)
Bogner 5 +/- - 8
Bednii 8 +/- +/- 15
Christensen 8 +/- + 15
Morco 8 + + 8

Cryptocoryne usteriana is a good aquarium plant. The plant is very easy to cultivate and can be obtained from any hobby club once established.
Other Cryptocoryne plants which have long bullate leaves are C. bullosa, C. hudoroi, C. keei, C. crispatula var. balansae and to some extend, some forms of C. affinis. The newly described C. coronata is a very lookalike to C. usteriana.

Updated December 2001

Literature

Bogner, J., 1984. Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler und Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia Merrill. Aqua-Planta 4-84 : 7-13
Bogner, J. & Jacobsen, N., 1984. Eine unbekannte Cryptocoryne aus Vietnam. Aqua-Planta 3-84 : 19-20.
Engler, A., 1905. in: A.Usteri, Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Philippinen und ihrer Vergetation, mit Ausblicken auf Nachbargebiete. Vjschr.Naturf.Ges.Zürich 50 : 452-453.
Engler, A., 1916. Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler n.sp. Bot.Jb. 54, Beiblatt z d Bot. Jb., Nr 118 : 125
Engler, A., 1920. (Cryptocoryne, Lagenandra in) Das Pflanzenreich IV.23.F. Araceae - Aroideae : 232-249, Leipzig.
Jacobsen, N., 1985. Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler. Aqua-Planta 4-85 : 14.
Jacobsen, N., Bogner, J. & Christensen, C., 1998. Weitere Aufsammlungen von Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler auf den Philippinen. Aqua Planta 3-98 : 113-115.
Kasselmann, C., 1995. Aquarienpflanzen. Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Merrill, E.D., 1925. Cryptocoryne. An Enumeration of Philippine Flowering Plants 1 : 189.
Möhlmann, F., 1984. Kulturhinweise zu Cryptocoryne usteriana. Aqua-Planta 4-84 :14.
Wit, H.C.D.de, 1990. Aquarienpflanzen, 2. Auflage. Ulmer, Stuttgart.