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POGOSTEMON ERECTUS

Synonyms: Rotala verticillaris (erroneous)
Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: Medium High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Pogostemon
Region: Asia
Location: Southwestern India
Size: Stem width: 5-6cm (2-2.5in)
Growth Rate: Moderate
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes

Description:

Originally collected for the aquarium hobby from the Western Indian state of Maharashtra and presented as Rotala verticillaris from the family Lythraceae, Pogostemon erectus has found a place in many aquariums over the last several years. It is superficially similar to R. verticillaris and some forms of Rotala mexicana, but can be distinguished as a submersed plant in part by its more vertical growth and somewhat larger size. Emersed, the differences are much more apparent: Whereas R. verticillaris and R. mexicana have rather inconspicuous, sessile flowers, P. erectus has very conspicuous and decorative terminal spikes of purple flowers. Additionally, emersed P. erectus possesses untoothed leaves with revolute, or down-curving margins resembling pine needles and obvious hairs on the stamen filaments of its flowers, the latter feature never being found on any members of the family Lythraceae. The ranges of the confused P. erectus and R. verticillaris also differ, with the former found on the Southwestern side of peninsular India and the latter on the Southeastern side and in Sri Lanka.

Not for so-called low tech tanks, Pogostemon erectus is nonetheless relatively undemanding and will not stunt provided it is given plentiful light and carbon dioxide. It occasionally grows in brackish conditions in the wild and may therefore be more adaptable that has been realized so far. Variation in leaf thickness and texture may result from relatively minor differences in conditions

As an aquascaping plant, it is best used in the background in all but the tallest of tanks, where it grows at a moderately fast but still manageable rate. Its fine-leaved, light green foliage is especially striking next to red or magenta-colored plants like Persicaria praetermissa. Many side shoots are formed after trimming, with the stand becoming very full in time, at which point it may need to be thinned.

Photo #1 Submersed: US and International Copyright 2008 by Ken Takeuchi. All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2 Submersed: US and International Copyright 2008 by Ken Takeuchi. All Rights Reserved.

Photo #3 Emersed: US and International Copyright 2008 by Ken Takeuchi. All Rights Reserved.

Photo #4 Emersed: US and International Copyright 2008 by Ken Takeuchi. All Rights Reserved.

Photo #5 Inflorescence: US and International Copyright 2008 by Kris Weinhold. All Rights Reserved.