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Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Onagraceae
Genus: Ludwigia
Region: Cosmopolitan
Location: Americas, North Africa, Europe, Asia
Size: Stem width: 4-7cm (1.5-3in)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Ludwigia palustris, as its name implies, can be found chiefly in palustrine (swampy) environments across the globe (excluding Australasia). This fairly uniform species can be found growing creeping and submersed in shallow pools and other types of stagnant and/or slow-moving waters. It has been regularly available for many years, sometimes as 'Red Ludwigia' and sometimes erroneously as "L. mullertii" (a name under which the venerable L. repens has also been cultivated). However, in recent years, it has become increasingly common (and is now the rule more so than the exception) for plants offered for sale as Ludwigia palustris to actually be L. repens x L. arcuata instead of genuine L. palustris. A plant supposedly belonging to this species that always remains green is sold by the German plant nursery Dennerle.

The main element required to encourage the satisfactory growth of L. palustris in the aquarium is sufficient light. Although medium values are tolerated, additional illumination results in the best coloration. Macronutrient fertilizers, particularly nitrate and phosphate, are much appreciated by this species despite the fact that it will grow without them. Micronutrient and CO2 fertilization are also not required, but their inclusion will enhance both color and growth. Also, unlike many plants native to temperate areas, L. palustris is quite adaptable to varying temperatures and has no difficulty growing in warmer water. Under high light values, the stems of this species tend to grow at an angle, especially if the substrate is rich. Many roots and lateral shoots will form on the nodes of this plant. The inconspicuous flower of this species most easily sets it apart from closely related species in the Ludwigia genus; in cultivation outdoors in ponds or tubs, L. palustris will produce flowers with four green sepals (no petals) and four yellow stamens. In the absence of flowering material, L. palustris can sometimes be differentiated from L. repens and L. palustris x L. repens on the basis of its comparatively longer petioles (the thin section connecting the leaf to the stem). Also, plants with reddish leaf edges, stems, and/or central veins are usually L. palustris.

The topping method of pruning a stem and replanting the severed portion is a good way to propagate this species, since a multitude of new shoots will soon develop on the nodes of the section left in the substrate.

Although the use of this species in the aquascape greatly depends on what color form is being cultivated by the aquarist, the reddish form (which is by far the most common) is the most decorative. That said, the shoots of this species form an excellent eye-catching focus if planted in a graduated or tiered group in the middle zone of the aquarium, where they will contrast best with light and dark green species with fine leaves.

Photo #1: Submersed US and International Copyright 2004 by Cavan Allen All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2: Emersed in habitat US and International Copyright 2004 by Cavan Allen All Rights Reserved.