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LIMNOPHILA SP. 'GIGANTEA'

Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Plantaganaceae
Genus: Limnophila
Region: Asia
Location: Southeast Asia
Size: Individual stem width: 8-12cm (3-5in)
Growth Rate: Very fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes

Description:

Limnophila sp. 'Gigantea' is a native of southeast Asia, where it grows along the banks of slow moving to stagnant bodies of water. It differs from the similarly sized L. aquatica in that the leaves near the shoot apex are pale green with a red tinge. Although it has been in the hobby for many years, L. sp. 'Gigantea' is a very rare plant in the United States. However, one could always procure it from vendors that regularly import plants from Oriental Aquariums in Singapore.

Although not as undemanding as L. sessiliflora, L. sp. 'Gigantea' is not a difficult plant to grow if its rather basic requirements are met. Lighting should at least be moderate (2wpg or more); CO2 supplementation should be added. If there is not sufficient lighting, the lower stems of this species will disintegrate. The water should be clean and free of debris that could otherwise collect on the very fine leaves and cause algae. Macronutrients (nitrate, phosphate, potassium) should be added regularly for best results. If phosphate levels are kept high (~2ppm), the internodal length will be shorter. Iron is especially critical for the well being of this stem plant. If there is not enough iron in the water column or substrate, the growing tips of this plant will become very pale.

When growing conditions are to its liking, L. sp. 'Gigantea' grows at an astonishing pace that is typical for its genus. It spreads invasively into other plant groupings by producing runner-like stems at the base. To prune, simply cut the more robust top portions and replant. Propagation can be done by snipping off a side shoot from the main stem and replanting it into the substrate.

This fine-leaved stem plant is an excellent candidate for the background of medium to large sized aquariums. It looks especially beautiful in Dutch layouts where it is carefully contrasted with plants of differing leaf sizes, textures, and colors.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ghazanfar Ghori All Rights Reserved.