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Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Rosette
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Echinodorus
Region: Cultivar
Location: Cultivar
Size: 5-15cm (2-6in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Echinodorus parviflorus is a sword plant which is native to South America. The 'Tropica' cultivar of this species closely resembles the wild form of E. parviflorus, except for its tendency to produce hammered leaves and to remain more compact. E. parviflorus 'Tropica' was named after the well-known aquatic nursery that developed it in 1985 by the Danish botanists Niels Jacobsen and Lauritz Holm-Nielsen. The 'Tropica' cultivar is a fairly common sword and is usually available through the major nurseries.

E. parviflorus 'Tropica' is a relatively undemanding plant in the aquarium. Like all species in the Echinodorus genus, E. parviflorus 'Tropica' is happiest with a rich substrate and good water column supplementation. CO2 supplementation is not necessary for success with this plant, although it is certainly beneficial. E. parviflorus 'Tropica' will grow fine in low to very high light. However, when grown in dimly-lit conditions, the plant stays considerably smaller and more compact. The most common nutrient deficiency with this species is iron, a problem which is easily remedied by placing a source of iron (i.e., root tabs, etc.) at the base of the plant.

Being a rosette plant, E. parviflorus 'Tropica' should be pruned of old, damaged or dying leaves by removing them from the crown of the plant. The aquarist should be careful not to damage the rhizome. This small sword plant propagates through adventitious plantlets which should be allowed to reach a size of 3-4 inches with an obvious root structure before they are separated from the mother plant. Initial runner propagation can often be enticed by altering the lighting duration by a few hours.

This species can easily be grown emersed. Emersed growth is best begun with the placement of small plantlets in a wet substrate (with the leaves out of water) in order to allow them adapt to terrestrial conditions. Be careful, however, to always keep the soil moist and to frequently mist the leaves at first to avoid drying.

This small sword's wide and rounded leaves add an interesting shape and texture to the aquascape. Its small size, ease of growth and its ability to handle almost any water parameters make it a beautiful and interesting choice for fore- and midground placement in the beginner aquascape.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Tony Gomez All Rights Reserved.