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Synonyms: Hemianthus micranthemoides (erroneous), Micranthemum glomeratum
Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Linderniaceae
Genus: Hemianthus
Region: North America
Location: Florida
Size: Individual stem width: 0.5-1cm (.25-.5in)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Hemianthus glomeratus, often known as baby tears or pearlgrass, is a species endemic to Florida, where it grows abundantly in wet depressions and standing water. Long known in error as the similar Hemianthus micranthemoides, it has chasmogamous (pollinated while fully opened) flowers with acute (pointed) calyx lobes, as opposed to the cleistogamous (non-opening and self pollinated) flowers with obtuse (rounded) calyx lobes of the true H. micranthemoides. The two species also differ in their habitat, with H. micranthemoides being a specialized plant of tidal rivers. Historically, H. micranthemoides grew in appropriate habitat from Virginia to New York, but has not been seen alive since 1941 and may actually be extinct.

H. glomeratus is an undemanding plant with three to four leaves per whorl, requiring only ample lighting in an unshaded location (1.75 watts per gallon with power compacts or more). When lit well, this plant will become very bushy, and the stems will grow at an angle above the substrate. Poorly-lit stems will grow straight up and seem leggy. This plant is an excellent candidate for well lit non-CO2 aquaria, although CO2 does promote faster and bushier growth. Although not too picky about fertilization, the plant does appreciate regular doses of nitrate and of an iron/micronutrient mix. High levels of PO4 (1.5-2 ppm) seem to encourage larger, more robust stems and faster growth. This plant is highly sensitive to fish medications such as erythromycin and tryptaflavin and even to nylon fabric.

H. glomeratus is simple to propagate; simply snip off a stem from the bush and replant into the substrate. It is easiest to prune the plant by cutting off the growing tips with a pair of scissors, using a fine net to collect all the leaves and pieces of stem that float upward.

This plant is very versatile for aquascaping purposes. The plant can be used as a foreground plant by planting individual stems horizontally along the substrate and providing ample amounts of power compact, metal halide, or T5 lighting. The plant can also be planted normally and, after repeated prunings, form an impressive bush in the midground or even in the background. Due to its small leaf size, this plant is highly suitable for nano planted aquascapes.

Photo #1 Submersed: US and International Copyright 2004 by Tula Top All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2 Flower closeup: US and International Copyright 2011 by Cavan Allen All Rights Reserved.

Photo #3 H. micranthemoides specimen with cleistogamous flowers: US and International Copyright 2011 by Cavan Allen All Rights Reserved.