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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Cryptocoryne undulata Wendt

Cryptocoryne undulata is a very good aquarium plant, is common available but is seldom recognized. This was a plant of much debate from the 60s. to the 70s. It was formerly named C. willisii.  

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This aquarel from Ike Zewald, made in 1956, give an impression of 'the good old' C. willisii. The plant must be renamed to C. undulata (see text).
aquarel Ike Zewald
A very old picture of C. undulata. Note the bright green leaves with an undulated margin. The limb is twisted and has a yellowish color.
coll. hort., cult. Blass
photo Blass
The normally long petioled leave has striking red veins on the lower side. Both in emersed and submersed culture this character is quite stable.
coll. hort., cult. W53
photo van Wijngaarden
As usual, features are not always present. This specimen looks like a C. wendtii but has a 'normal' spathe of C. undulata.
coll. & cult. NJ22-1
photo Jacobsen
Variations in the limb of the spathe. This one is rather narrow twisted and has a distinct collar.
coll. hort., cult. B195
A broad twisted limb and a high collar. Note the dark rim at the edge of the collar.
coll. hort., cult. W53 photo van Wijngaarden
A very broad, nearly flat limb of the spathe with a brownish color.
coll. hort., cult. de Wit 36857 photo de Wit
A limb with even colored limb and throat of the spathe. It looks like some C. wendtii forms, lacking the dark collar. Even worse, this probably triploid form has leaves like C. walkeri.
coll. hort., cult. B656
A triploid form of C. undulata with dark green leaves with a deep red lower side. Vegetative the plant resembles C. walkeri ("legroi") and has hardly undulated leaves.
coll. hort., cult. B31
The kettle of a triploid form. Note the short spadix compared to the picture at right.The 'holes' in the kettle wall (alveoli) are normal for species from Sri Lanka.
coll. hort., cult. B656
A diploid form with a rather long stretched kettle. Its not known if this is a true character.
coll. hort., cult. B195
This is not a C. undulata but - best guess - may be regarded as C. beckettii. Its normal to feel quite uncomfortable when discussing taxonomy in Cryptocoryne.
coll. hort., cult. B92
A bright green plant which looks very similar to some forms of C. wendtii. But the spathe says it is a C. undulata
coll. hort., cult. W33 photo van Wijngaarden
The 'classical' diploid form of C. undulata in submersed culture.
coll. hort., cult. PK
photo Krombholz
Drawing of C. undulata in de Wit (1990).
drawing Ike Zewald
Distribution of C. undulata in the highland of Sri Lanka.

The problems in taxonomy go back to a misinterpretation of C. nevillii. When it came clear that this name was in use for another species that latter species should have another name. Research in literature turned out that the right name for the latter should be C. willisii. However, this name was already in use for the plant described here. So another change was inevitable and the right way to do was to use the description of Wendt's C. undulata. Rataj's C. axelrodii is a synonym. See the abundant literature on this problem below.
C. undulata originates from Sri Lanka, where it grows in the central part.
Cultivation of C. undulata is quite simple. They grow easily both emersed and submersed in the aquarium. A very special character of older plants of the diploid form is that its rhizome 'creeps out of the ground'. The diploid form is quite typical (see the nice picture below from Paul Krombholz, USA). The triploid form is hardly recognized for its 'in between' some C. beckettii and C. walkeri forms and cannot be identified with certainty without inflorescense.

Updated August 1999


  • Arends, J.C., Bastmeijer, J.D. & Jacobsen, N., 1982. Chromosome numbers and taxonomy in Cryptocoryne (Araceae).II. Nord.J.Bot. 2 : 453-463.
  • Baum, H., 1909. Neue wasserpflanzen. Blätter für Aq.&Ter.kunde 20(1): 1-7.
  • Baum, H., 1909. Neue Wasserpflanzen. Die Gartenwelt 13 : 5-7.
  • Böhmer, A., 1935. Die Cryptocorynen. Wochenschrift f.Aq.u.Terr.kunde 32 : 790-791, 804-807, 821-823.
  • Finck, M.C., 1934. Die bisher eingefuhrten und in unsern Aquarien kultivierten Cryptocoryne-Arten. Nachr.blatt f.Aq.u.Terr.Vereine : 284-287.
  • Graaf, A. de & Arends, J.C., 1986. The occurrence of Cryptocoryne and Lagenandra (Araceae) on Sri Lanka. Nord.J.Bot. 6 : 757-764.
  • Graaf,, 1987. Die Verbreitung von Cryptocoryne und Lagenandra (Araceae) auf Sri Lanka. Das Aquarium 221 : 571-575.
  • Jacobsen, N., 1976. Notes on Cryptocoryne of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Bot.Notiser 129 : 179-190.
  • Jacobsen, N., 1977. Zytologie und Taxonomie der Cryptocorynen Sri Lankas. Aqua-Planta 4-77 : 3-8.
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  • Jacobsen, N., 1981. Cryptocoryne undulata Wendt und Bemerkungen zu anderen Arten - ein Nachtrag. Aqua-Planta 4-81 : 92-94.
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  • Legro, R.A.H. & Wit,, 1956. Enkele aantekeningen over Cryptocorynen. Het Aquarium 27(7) : 148-153.
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  • Möhlmann, F., 1977. Die ceylonesischen Cryptocoryne-Arten. Aqua-Planta 1-77 : 8-9.
  • Möhlmann, F., 1994. Die Cryptocoryne-Arten Ceylons (2). Aqua-Planta 1-94 : 34-39.
  • Mühlberg, H., 1980. Das grosse Buch der Wasserpflanzen. Dausien, Hanau.
  • Rataj, K., 1975. Revision of the genus Cryptocoryne Fischer. Studie CSAV, c.3.Praha.
  • Rataj, K., 1975. Cryptocoryne axelrodii Rataj. Trop.Fish Hobbyist Vol XXIII july : 60-65.
  • Rataj, K. & Horeman, T.J., 1977. Aquarium Plants. TFH Publ, USA.
  • Roe, C.D., 1967. A manual of aquarium plants. Shirley aquatics Ltd.
  • Schöpfel, H., 1978. Cryptocoryne willisii. Info ZAG Wasserpflanzen 3-1978 : (beilage).
  • Vlugt, P.J.van der, 1992. Cryptocoryne beckettii en andere oude getrouwen. Het Aquarium 62(5) : 106-111.
  • Wendt, A., 1955. Etwas über richtige und falsche Namen unserer Cryptocorynen. DATZ 8 : 236-240.
  • Wendt, A., 1955. Cryptocoryne nevillii, undulata und willisii. Aq.& Terr. 3 : 151-154.
  • Wendt, A., 1956. Cryptocoryne undulata Wendt, Cryptocoryne willisii Engler ex Baum. Het Aquarium 26(9) : 207-208.
  • Wendt, A., 1958. Die Gattung Cryptocoryne Fischer. Die Aquariumpflanzen in Wort und Bild (1952-1958). Stuttgart.
  • Wit,, 1990. Aquarienpflanzen, 2. Auflage. Ulmer, Stuttgart. ISBN 3-8001-7185-6
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