The Flowering of Hygrophila corymbosa.

The Flowering of Hygrophila corymbosa.

By: CAF - AC Member and Vice President, Colorado Aquarium Society

H. corymbosa is an outstanding addition to any aquarium. Regardless of whether or not you have “planted” tanks, this plant with its wonderful large green leaves makes an attractive compliment to whatever set up you have. H. corymbosa is known to grow wild in three countries: Singapore, Mexico, and right here in the United States of America. Unfortunately, don’t break out your waders and a bucket to begin hunting for it here in Colorado as it is not known to grow wild in our state. However, if you are planning on visiting California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, or Florida, you might be lucky enough to find it growing in a streambed, pond, or lake.

        For those of you who are interested I have included the full taxonomic information below.


        Kingdom: Plantae Haeckel 1866 – plants

             Sub-kingdom: Viridaeplantae Cavilier-Smith 1981 – green plants

                  Phylum: Tracheophyta Sinnott 1935 ex. Cavilier-Smith 1998

                       Sub-phylum: Spermatophytina (auct.) Cavilier-Smith 1998 – seed plants

                            Infraphylum: Angiosperma auct.

                                 Class: Magnoliopsida Brongniart 1843 – dicotyledons

                                      Superorder: Lamianae

                                           Order: Sorophulariales

                                                Family: Acanthaceae

                                                     Sub-family: Acanthoideae

                                                          Genus: Hygrophila R. Brown 1810

                                                                 Species: corymbosa (Blume) Lindau

        Botanical Name: Hygrophila corymbosa (Blume) Lindau

The name is accepted within the scientific community as being correct with the latest taxonomic study having been completed on March 15, 2000.

        Now that we have all of the scientific stuff taken care of, I would like to tell you about my personal experiences with this wonderful plant. I purchased my first plant at a mini-auction in February of 2007. I placed it into a thirty gallon tall with the intention of separating the stems into different pots so I could grow out multiple plants at the same time. Almost immediately all of the leaves began to deteriorate and fall off of the stem, so I went ahead and pruned it ruthlessly and planted the few remaining tips of stems into net pots packed with rock wool. Within a month, I had enough mature plants to begin selling off my surplus.

        I kept a few for myself and regularly trimmed them back so that the stems never breached the water’s surface. The plants with their large green leaves began to form dense thickets, looking great in the back of my fifty-five gallon. Then the annual spring auction came, and all of the plants I purchased or traded for there. I now had more plants than available space to plant them all in, so I let all of the new plants float on top of my tank with the intention of doing a trim and working in some space for them. Before I could get to that, the next general meeting came along, and yet more plants came home. So there I was, trying to find time to get all of the plants in their proper places, working my regular job, and getting ready for the vacation coming up the following week. Well between work and getting ready for the vacation, I of course, did not have the time to get to the plants. So we left our tanks in the care of friend for week leaving all of the lights on our tanks on for twenty-four hours per day for the entire time we were gone (around eight days.)

        We came back and all of the tanks looked fine initially, except that the pre-filter on our power head in the planted fifty-five gallon had clogged so we had no water flow at all. While looking in that tank I noticed that my H. corymbosa seemed to have lost almost all of its leaves. Since I had to clean the filter anyway, I went ahead and pulled off the hood to the tank, lo and behold, there they were, these absolutely gorgeous purple flowers at the top of my “dead” plant! The emersed leaves of the plant had become a darker green and harder than the immersed form with the flowers jutting out proudly below them right at the waterline.

        Very soon thereafter while we were getting ready to host the monthly board meeting, I noticed that some the flowers were beginning to drop and die off forming small seed pods. As of this writing, none of the seeds have fallen off of the plant, I am hoping to soon attempt to germinate the seeds and see if I can grow them. If so, I will write of my experiences in that endeavor as well.

        So in summary, H. corymbosa seems to be a rather undemanding plant. From some research I have done on the plant, it will grow in a variety of substrates under differing light conditions. Its leaves are a nice green color with brown stems, if you can get it to flower, and do not mind losing the leaves below the waterline, it has small well shaped purple flowers. As I mentioned earlier, this plant makes an excellent addition to any tank. I highly recommend that you try this wonderful plant in your own aquariums.

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