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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Unknown
Region: Asia
Location: Unknown
Size: stem width 2-3 inches (5-8cm)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Like its common name suggests, Poaceae sp. ‘Purple Bamboo’ bears a resemblance to actual bamboo, which are merely large, woody grasses. But although it was introduced into aquaristics as a Polygonum species, it is instead one of the very few grass species in the planted aquarium side of the hobby. True Polygonums (plants in aquaristics are really Persicaria species) are characterized by, among other things, their swollen nodes encased in a distinctive sheath known as an ocrea. ‘Purple Bamboo’ has neither and also differs by the veination of its leaves. As far as what species it is or even the genus to which it belongs, nothing is known. Also unknown are its inflorescences, which, along with at least rudimentary information on its natural distribution, will be indispensable in discovering its true identity should any be found.

As an aquarium plant, Poaceae sp. ‘Purple Bamboo’ makes for a most interesting species. Under good light and with abundant carbon dioxide and proper fertilization, it displays eye-catching but not overpowering purple and chalky green hues and a tendency to form large oxygen bubbles on its leaf surfaces. Not especially demanding in any respect and capable of surviving in what are commonly known as low-tech aquariums, this species nonetheless grows and looks best under the sort of conditions described above.

A strictly vertical growth habit and delicate appearance lend it to minimalistic Asian-themed aquascapes especially well. Moderately sized stands composed of an odd number of stems are perhaps the most common use of this species; side shoots are infrequently formed in the absence of trimming, helping maintain a somewhat formal look if desired. An often overlooked use is as a plant for paludariums. Although perfectly capable of growing below water, it is much more at home above it and easily breaks the water surface. This tendency can be utilized effectively by planting it in shallow water around driftwood or in the rear of open top aquariums. Regular trimming of the emersed form is important because stems can grow to almost three feet in length unchecked.

Photo #1: Submersed US and International Copyright 2007 by Tim Gross All Rights