by Jan D. Bastmeijer
These pages are on the cultivation and taxonomy of plants of the genus Cryptocoryne (Araceae)
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Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia Merrill

Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia is a well known plant for many years. From the 60's there are reports of this plant, growing over 1 m (3 ft) in public aquaria. There was a dispute whether or not this species must be regarded as a synonym of C. usteriana (De Wit 1990) until Bogner discovered the latter in 1982. Recent imports from the Philippines show that both C. usteriana and C. aponogetifolia are more complex than expected. Both species are shipped by Morco International, Manila. C. aponogetifolia is characterized by its strong bullate, linear, even green leaves. It is an easy to grow plant for moderate to hard water.

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Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia growing in the Sorsogon province, Luzon, Philippines.
photo Bogner
A creme colored spathe of C. aponogetifolia found in the Sorsogon area.
A small stream with an abundant growth of C. aponogetifolia.It is easy to walk in this river.
Mr. Morco showing the giant plants of C. aponogetifolia found in the Sorsogon area.
The streams in Sorsogon are crystal clear, C. aponogetifolia is the dominating aquatic plant.
Lots of inflorescences were found in the month May. Note the long peduncle of the spathe. Only the limb of the spathe points out of the water.
This river in the Albay province (Luzon) was cloudy; scattered along the river there were big stands of C. aponogetifolia.
The water level is rather low but may rise in a short time for more than a meter.
In the dry period, some banks are exposed. C. aponogetifolia is growing emersed here. The small plants were deeply buried in the gravel.
A big patch of C. aponogetifolia extending for 100 m! Not easy to walk through for the water depth is c 1 m at the edge.
The is much debris on the leaves, the water current is apparently very slow between the leaves.
We could not find any inflorescence in this river in the Albay province,  this big frog could not compensate for that.
An emersed cultivated specimen of C. aponogetifolia from Sorsogon. As these plants arrived at Aqua Fleur nurseries in the Netherlands, the rhizome was put in rockwool for cultivation.
A close view on the throat of C. aponogetifolia. The throat is purplish, surrounded by a broad yellowish rim. The upper part of the limb is rounded back, probably because of too low humidity.
It is no problem to cultivate C. aponogetifolia emersed. This specimen was fully grown emersed, but on the long term it was not a success.
Cultivated in the 70's by A.J. Huurman, C. aponogetifolia grows together with C. affinis in an old fishtank. The spathe exceeds 50 cm. Moderate temperature, hard water.
The inflorescence of  a cultivated C. aponogetifolia. Note the limb of the spathe which has the edges turned back.
Different spathe's of cultivated C. aponogetifolia. Note the denticulate margin of the limb of the spathe.
photo Jacobsen
The collar(zone) in this specimen is rather pronounced.
photo Jacobsen
A quite 'normal' limb of the spathe of C. aponogetifolia.
photo Jacobsen
Opened kettle of a few days old inflorescence of C. aponogetifolia (the pollen is to be released). The naked part of the spadix is more or less polygonal in cross section, not seen in other Cryptocoryne.
De Wit (1990) joined drawings of C. aponogetifolia (the bullate, 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
The herbarium sheet of the Ramos and Edano collection made in 1918 from the Panay island, Philippines. It is uncertain if C. aponogetifolia still exists over there.
herbarium Singapore
Currently known distribution of C. aponogetifolia in the Philippines. Historical records are from the isles Negros, Panay and the south-east of Luzon. Recent collections are only known from the Sorgozon and Albay provinces (Luzon).

Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia is a very big plant. I saw specimens of over 1 meter tall in a public aquarium. The almost linear leaves are strongly bullate. The color of the leaves is grass green and do not have any purple color on their sides. The inflorescence can reach up to 50 cm and often has a strongly twisted tube. The limb of the spathe can vary as seen above.

Updated December 2001


Bogner, J., 1984. Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler und Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia Merrill. Aqua-Planta 4-84 : 7-13.
Bogner, J., 1990. Filipino Cryptocoryne. Aquarist & Pondkeeper January 1990 : 38.
Jacobsen, N., 1985. Cryptocoryne usteriana Engler. Aqua-Planta 4-85 : 14.
Kasselmann, C., 1995. Aquarienpflanzen. Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Merrill, E.D., 1919. Noteworthy Philippine Plants, XV. The Philippine Journal of Science 14 : 370-371.
Merrill, E.D., 1925. Cryptocoryne, An Enumeration of Philippine Flowering Plants 1 : 189.
Schulze, J., 1978. An den naturlichen Standorte von Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia Merrill in den Philippinen. DATZ 31 : 310 - 314.
Wit,, 1990. Aquarienpflanzen, 2. Auflage. Ulmer, Stuttgart.

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