by Jan D. Bastmeijer ~ 2016
Suwidji Wongso & Co.
These pages are on the cultivation and taxonomy of plants of the genus Cryptocoryne & Lagenandra (Araceae)
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HOME >Cryptocoryne ×purpurea nothovar.purpurea

Cryptocoryne ×purpurea Ridley nothovar. purpurea

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According to the famous H.N. Ridley (1904), a former director of the Botanical Garden of Singapore,  this is the most easy to cultivate Cryptocoryne! Also de Wit (1964) states that Cryptocoryne ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea is the most common aquarium plant in both Europe and America. Times have changed. Today there is hardly any Cryptocoryne ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea left in the hobby of growing Crypts.
The plant grows in W. Malaysia, there are still plants around the type locality near Kota Tingii, but the best known locality today is the Tasek (= lake) Bera in W. Malaysia (Furtado & Mori 1982; Sim 2002). The plant is regarded as a hybrid between C. griffithii and C. cordata var. cordata (Jacobsen 1982). In 2002, Jacobsen et al. described another hybrid from Kalimantan: C. ×purpurea nothovar. borneoensis, which is regarded as a hybrid between C. griffithii (from Kalimantan!) and C. cordata var. grabowskii.

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

In 1985, Jacobsen and Bogner visited Tasek Bera, an enormous swamp area in Pahang. where they found C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea.
coll. NJ 85-21
photo Jacobsen
Flowering specimen of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea from Tasek Bera. Note the more or less yellowish zone just above the tube (the throat). A distinct collar fails.
coll. NJ 85-21
photo Jacobsen
From the same locality, C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea with a more purple colored throat. The limb of the spathe is freshly opened and not yet fully spread.
coll. Bogner 1722
photo Bogner
Cultivated specimen of the 1985 plant from Tasek Bera. The limb of the spathe is purple to red, rough. The throat is broad and smooth, often more or less yellowish. The tube isn't fused perfect.
coll. Jacobsen NJ 85-2, cult B 521
C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea growing in the Tasek Bera swamp.
coll. Sim s.n.
photo Sim

Mixed with Blyxa sp. grows C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea abundantly.
coll. Sim s.n.
photo Sim
A close up of the locality (left picture). Note the yellowish throat of the limb.
coll. Sim s.n.
photo Sim

The Tasek Bera swamps in the Pahang state (W. Malaysia). See the map below.
photo Sim
A historical photograph of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea, made in 1958! Note that the plant grows and flowers submersed in an aquarium.
coll. hort., cult. HvB
photo van Bruggen

Another submersed grown C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. Note the more brownish leaves and the more reddish throat of the limb. This picture is made also in the 50's.
coll. hort., cult. JV
photo Vlasblom
When the spathe matures after a couple of days, the margins of the limb of the spathe fold down. This picture is also from the mid of the last century.
coll. hort., cult. AB
photo van Blass

Again an old picture of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. Note the marmorated leaves with the pale veins. The limb of the spathe is remarkable dark.
coll. hort., cult.M
photo Möhlmann

C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea cultivated on a simple mixture of only gravel and peat litter with a weekly doses of a diluted fertilizer. Note the dark stripes (marmorated) on the leaves.
coll. hort., cult. B14
Mostly C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea has a a yellow throat, but the are uniform red plants ('concolor'). Note the irregular, warty structure of the limb and the smooth surface of the throat. No collar present.
coll. hort., cult. B14
Again a very old collection of unknown origin of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea, grown at the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen since 1912. The plants have been placed in shallow water.
Unknown locality (1671/2) but they originate from the Botanical Garden in Dresden, and no doubt come from Ridley's original plants that were sent live to Kew.
coll. HBH1671-2, cult. NJ
photo Jacobsen

There is sometimes a discussion  for how much Cryptocoryne can adapt the length of the tube according to the water level. This one does well in the of Copenhagen.
coll. HBH1671-2, cult. NJ
photo Jacobsen

This specimen has quite bright green leaves. In emersed culture the size of the plant will not be bigger as shown here (pot size 9 cm), but in submersed culture the leaves may grow much taller.
coll. hort., cult. B700
Close up of the limb of the spathe. There is no distinct collar (rim) but the funnel shaped throat may be a bit swollen like in C. cordata.
coll. hort., cult. B700
Again a somewhat deviating form, to be regarded as C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. The whole limb of the spathe is more or less orange. Note the short tube.
coll. hort., cult. W80
photo van Wijngaarden

Detail of the same plant as left. Note the fine reddish spots at the opening of the tube (inside).
coll. hort., cult. W80
photo van Bruggen

A deviating color of the limb of the spathe of C. ×purpurea. The warty surface of the limb makes it different from C. cordata.
coll. hort., cult. NJ 3207
photo Jacobsen

A bronze leafed C. ×purpurea. In cultivation, plants may react strongly at the environmental factors, such as light.
coll. hort., cult. W49
photo van Wijngaarden
A dirty yellow limb of the spathe of C. ×purpurea. This one is quite close to C. cordata, but differs in the structure of the limb.
coll. hort., cult. W49
photo van Wijngaarden

Close up of the limb of the plant at left. Note the fine red spots at the transition of the tube to the throat. The limb is hardly warty.
coll. hort., cult. B-W49
Opened kettle of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. The most distinguishing characters are the brownish outside color of the ovaries and the broad stigma's. The length of the naked part of the spadix mostly is not a good character. Note the yellow valve at the top of the picture.
coll. hort., cult. B700
Another section of the broadened lower part of the tube (kettle). Spadix (the 'rod') rather short, the flap is whitish and the stigma's rounded. The brownish tinge on the top of the  female flowers (lower part) seems to be typical.
coll. NJ85-21, cult. B521
Typical incised stigma's of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. This is not always seen. Note the 'snowflake' like structure of the stigma's, typical for a fresh opened spathe. After one day the stigma's become translucent (very left picture).
coll. hort., cult. B14
A longitudinal cut through the female flowers of C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. Lots of ovules, which could become seeds after pollinating. However, fruits are not known, indicating a hybrid origin of this species.
coll. hort., cult. B14
The C. ×purpurea nothovar. borneoensis fom Kalimantan (Indonesia) is characterized with a rough limb, a distinct collar and has a deep red color of the limb.
coll. SP2
photo Sasaki

After having cleared up the identity, de Wit (1960, 1990) published this splendid drawing of C. ×purpurea var. purpurea  
drawing Ike Zewald
Map of the Tasek Bera swamps. C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea grows at several spots in this area. Also C. cordata var. cordata is found at Tasek Bera (Sim 2002).
Distribution of C. ×purpurea var. purpurea in West Malaysia. The upper locality is the Tasek Bera National Park. The lower locality is Kota Tingii, where the type was collected by Ridley.

From its very description by Ridley, there has always been a lot of confusion about its identity. Though Ridley was very aware of that, as was Engler (1920), it was not until 1960 that de Wit (see also de Wit 1990) gave a comprehensive explanation of the differences between C. griffithii, C. cordata var. cordata and C. ×purpurea nothovar. purpurea. Jacobsen (1982) regards it as a natural hybrid between C. cordata var. cordata and C. griffithii. Today, more variation in color of the limb of the spathe is encountered. All these plants are from undocumented origin. Newly,Yuji Sasaki from Japan collected plants from South Kalimantan (Indonesia) which are described as C. ×purpurea nothovar. borneoensis (Jacobsen et al. 2002).
Today, the Wetlands International Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society are involved with the conservation of the Tasek Bera National Park.

Updated January 2003 (removed broken links in July 2014)


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  • Sim, C.H., 2002. Conservation of the Endemic Aquatic Plant Cryptocoryne purpurea at Tasek Bera Ramsar Site, Pahang, Malaysia. Wetlands Malaysia.
  • Wit,, 1951. Cryptocoryne cordata, Cryptocoryne griffithii. Het Aquarium 22(6) : 128-129.
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