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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Saururaceae
Genus: Saururus
Region: Asia
Location: China
Size: Individual stem width: 10-15cm (4-6in)
Growth Rate: Moderate
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Although its cousin Saururus cernuus has long been a staple of the aquarium hobby and Dutch aquascapes in particular, S. chinensis has yet to become as popular or widespread. However, this native of riparian habitats in Eastern Asia is fairly common as a marginal plant and therefore may be obtained as emersed specimens in the pond section of nurseries and pet shops.

The acclimation period to submersed life can be quite lengthy, sometimes taking as long as a month. Only after a few weeks does the plant grow fully-sized and fully adapted leaves. During the transition period, it is recommended that the plant be fed abundantly at the roots. Once the transition is complete, be sure to provide intense lighting, carbon dioxide and very large quantities of both macro and micro nutrients via the water column or with a rich substrate; proper use of a urea-based nitrogen supplement is tremendously appreciated by this species. S. chinensis is particularly iron-hungry and promptly displays yellowish tissue in between veins when it doesn't get enough.

Much like the related S. cernuus, S. chinensis is vulnerable to the presence of green spot algae. To avoid that issue, don't skimp on phosphate or co2.

Although slow to pick up steam, Saururus chinensis is quite a handful when adapted to aquarium conditions. Vertical growth is never particularly fast (and therefore manageable), but a root system is formed that is the envy of Echinodorus everywhere. Through the root system, new stems can appear at surprising distances from the original ones. Needless to say, propagation poses no problems and the aquarist must be vigilant and willing to cut the plant on a regular basis. It is equally if not more prolific in its emersed form, so reproduction in a pond or frequently watered container is always an option as well.

S. chinensis is slow to adapt to aquarium life. It is demanding and invasive. Why, then, is it worth growing? The answer is simple. It is a very beautiful plant! Any faults are more than made up for by its exceptional appearance. Though a stem plant, it makes an excellent light green alternative to medium-sized Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne and Anubias species. Its wide and attractively veined leaves go particularly well with grassy plants. It is arguably more amenable to Japanese-style layouts and has been featured in aquascapes by Takasi Amano to good effect.