Synonyms: Acisanthera sp. (erroneous)
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Region: South America
Location: Lesser Antilles to Brazil, Bolivia
Size: Stem width 3 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes
The genus Aciotis comprises roughly fourteen species of the very large family Melastomataceae. Aciotis acuminifolia. is the first to be found suitable for aquaristics and originally entered the US hobby around 2005 as 'Sao Francisco Irecienu'. Several years later, it is still easiest to find in trade with other hobbyists. Although little is currently known about the original collection location, it has a wide distribution, ranging from the Lesser Antilles to Bolivia and Brazil. DNA testing conducted in 2009 confirmed this plant's place in Aciotis and examination of a complete specimen in 2011 confirmed the species; it was previously suspected to be from the related genus Acisanthera.
Aciotis acuminifolia. grows on stiff upright quadrangular stems with opposite and decussate (opposite leaves forming a plus sign when viewed from above) parallel-veined leaves typical of the family. Leaf color is typically green or yellow to reddish with red undersides. Higher light intensity will affect leaf color, with brighter light bringing out a more intense reddish color. Newer leaves have slightly upward curled margins, and this curling decreases on older leaves.
Aciotis acuminifolia. readily breaks the surface, and emersed growth is not troublesome if a fair amount of humidity is maintained. The appearance of the emergent stems is not much different, with the toothed margins being more apparent and the color becoming a darker red under good light. Small pinkish-white flowers develop in elaborate inflorescences called dichasiums at the nodes, leading to equally small green fruits full of dust-like reddish seeds.
This species is not particularly difficult to care for when provided soft water and ample nutrients. Moderate to high lighting and good CO2 are strongly recommended; when its needs are not met leaves may narrow and curl significantly, foreshadowing stunted growth and the eventual disintegration of the plant. Under light which is too dim, Aciotis acuminifolia. has a tendency to stop growing and drop leaves. When happy, this plant will grow at a moderate rate, producing ample side shoots which can be trimmed and replanted in the substrate. Like many other stem plants, trimming off the top portion will encourage more rapid growth of side shoots from the basal portion that remains. The substrate chosen does not seem particularly important; in any case, the plants will create fairly extensive root systems over time.
Photo #1: Submersed US and International Copyright 2009 by Adam Shappard All Rights Reserved
Photo #2: Flower US and International Copyright 2009 by Adam Shappard All Rights Reserved
Photo #3: Emersed with flowers US and International Copyright 2009 by Michael Teesdale All Rights Reserved
Photo #4: Inflorescence US and International Copyright 2009 by Adam Shappard All Rights Reserved