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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Rosette
Family: Eriocaulaceae
Genus: Eriocaulon
Region: Asia
Location: East Asia
Size: Height: 3-8cm (1-3
Growth Rate: Slow
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Eriocaulon cinereum, one of among 400 species of Eriocaulon, is native to the rice paddies of southeast Asia where it grows emersed on very wet soils. It has been found to be a good aquarium plant in recent years. Although it is relatively common in eastern Asia, E. cinereum is still a rarely imported species in the United States.

This small pipewort requires a fertile substrate to thrive, as it draws most of its nutrients from its extensive root system. In fact, the root system of this species can be up to three times longer than the leaves. The rest of its requirements are typical for most moderately difficult plants: lighting should be intense,CO2 is a necessity, and a typical water column fertilization regimen (including nitrate, phosphate, potassium, and micronutrients) should be in place. When CO2 levels are good, the center of E. cinereum will develop a golden hue.

This relatively small aquarium plant grows slowly even when conditions are to its liking, maxing out at a height of three inches. Once a month, E. cinereum can be uprooted for propagation. To propagate, take a sharp blade or pair of scissors and create an incision at the point where the plants meet. Then, tease apart into two separate plants.

E. cinereum, due to its small stature, is an excellent alternative plant for the foreground. It is commonly included in 'Tonina' tanks of East Asia where they seem like miniature, green urchins. Its unique appearance makes it suitable for creating areas of interest in any layout.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ethan Fisher All Rights Reserved.