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Synonyms: Echinodorus martii (erroneous)
Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Rosette
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Echinodorus
Region: Central/South America
Location: Eastern Brazil
Size: Height: 30-60cm (12-24in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Though most familiar to aquarists under the misnomer Echinodorus martii, E. major remains a popular and widely-available aquarium plant. Its native range includes eastern Brazil, where it can be found growing submersed and emersed (more frequently the former) on the shores of rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. This species has been available in the aquatic plant hobby for many years and is considered a staple among the common selections of most nurseries that offer aquarium plants.

E. major is a medium-sized sword plant with light green, undulate leaves. It does not form floating or emersed leaves in aquatic culture, a fact that has perhaps lent to its popularity over the years. A rich substrate is advantageous, as is light in the range of 1.5 watts per gallon or more; however, if the substrate is rich enough, most light values will be tolerated. The fertilization of the substrate near the roots of this species will result in more rapid growth and perhaps inflorescences�tall flower-stalks on which adventitious plants will develop. CO2 supplementation is not necessary but will boost growth. Iron and micronutrient fertilization should be practiced regularly. Emersed culture is also possible and can be realized in wet, rich soil under higher light.

E. major, like most species in the Echinodorus genus, can achieve a size too large for some aquaria. Growth can be somewhat curbed by the uprooting of the plant and the subsequent trimming of its roots, as well as the removal of older leaves (those growing on the outer edge of the rosette). Propagation by adventitious plants that form on the flower stalk is easy, and sometimes the plant can be divided if adventitious plants develop on the rhizome and are allowed to developed sufficient mass before separation. This can be accomplished using a razor blade.

The uses of this graceful plant in the aquascape are somewhat relegated to mid ground applications. If lit well, strong individuals can develop into magnificent centerpieces or focal points. Red species, such as Rotala macranda, contrast particularly well with E. major. On the other hand, its unique light green color and the texture of its leaves make it an available option in a tank with predominantly green plants.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Paul Krombholz All Rights Reserved.