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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is Microsorum pteropus 'Dwarf' even a valid plant?

The dwarf java fern continues to elude me. I have purchased/traded with various hobbyists for this species for a while; and time and time again, it turned out to be either a baby java fern or a malnourished java fern. Once placed in my high light tank, these specimens quickly attain the sizes of regular java ferns (both the regular and narrow leaf varieties). Now, I am leery whenever someone claims that s/he has the "true" dwarf java fern.

My most recent acquisition is an 1-inch tall "dwarf java fern". So far, it has gained an additional THREE inches. Argh!!! Fooled again. :evil:

Anyway, I am wondering if Microsorum pteropus 'Dwarf' exists and if there are any accounts of its short stature under high light growing conditions? I rather not continue chasing an imaginary plant. :mrgreen:

Curious.
 

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Ha ha! I too have gone down that road! That and the red moss that I've been hearing about. Three inches max growth is pretty small though, if it doesn't get any bigger, maybe you got something there. (Send me a piece if you do :lol: ) Besides, I've heard about this dwarf thing off and on for at least 6 years. Wouldn't you think a big nursery like Tropica or Oriental would have gotten their hands on it by now?

It is not a dwarf, but there is a very interesting Java fern out there that I have been looking for. I saw it in a Taiwanese mag and they labelled it as "Split narrow leaf". In the pic, it looked like narrow leaf with "Tropica" dentitions. Has anyone seen that plant? I do have a poor scanned image of it, probably not worth posting it here though.
 

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I don't know if it exists but I know I had "seeded" a small 10 gal tank with plantlets from a regular java fern a couple years ago. The 10 gal is low light, low nutrient and low fish load. The plantlets remained healthy and spread over the rocks I attached them to but remained no taller than 1-1.5 inches. I now have them in a bucket after having torn down the tank as it was not getting the attention it needed. These ferns have been in there for 2 years so my guess is that it could be a condition more than a species. I know the mother plant in my well maintained tank is full size so I'd expect these little ones to grow too if placed in a well maintained tank.

At least that's one experience, there might be another species somewhere but I can certainly see how someone may be led to believe that a 2 year old java fern no taller than 1.5 inches could be a dwarf of some kind. I'd be happy to send you some but their mom is a regular java fern so I think you would see the same thing happen.

Actually this is similar to my experience with Anubias nana petit, my petit under strong lighting over the last 2 years has overtaken my barteri in height :roll: same petit under medium light is still smallish but growing....

Giancarlo
 

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Yes, as gpodio says - conditions will greatly affect Java Fern.

In low ligh and low nutrient tank the plant stays small - short and thin leaves. Given enough P and light it turns into a tall, dense monster :)

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Aaron said:
the red moss that I've been hearing about.
Do you mean this red moss? According to biker, it cannot be grown submersed. :cry:

Three inches max growth is pretty small though, if it doesn't get any bigger, maybe you got something there. (Send me a piece if you do :lol: ) Besides, I've heard about this dwarf thing off and on for at least 6 years. Wouldn't you think a big nursery like Tropica or Oriental would have gotten their hands on it by now?
SIX years?!?!? :shock: Ok, now I am 99% convinced that the dwarf java fern does not exist. The remaining 1% is left for hope that either mine stops gaining height, or someone else can provide definitive evidence. Live and learn. Hehehe.

"Split narrow leaf". In the pic, it looked like narrow leaf with "Tropica" dentitions. [...] I do have a poor scanned image of it, probably not worth posting it here though.
I am an image junkie so please post it. PM if you'd prefer. :biggrin:

gpodio said:
there might be another species somewhere but I can certainly see how someone may be led to believe that a 2 year old java fern no taller than 1.5 inches could be a dwarf of some kind. I'd be happy to send you some but their mom is a regular java fern so I think you would see the same thing happen.
Thank you for the offer Giancarlo but my tanks are MUCH too small to accommodate their full size. I really appreciate your generosity nonetheless.
 

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I have two other Java ferns that stay smaller but neither stays around an inch.

One has leaves that are intermediate between normal Java fern and the narrow leaf. It grows as a tight clump and has not grown over about half as tall as the regular stuff (that doesn't mean it's small!). The other difference is the sori. They grow abundantly on submerged plants and are arranged in a neat row on either side of the midrib instead of randomly as in pteropus. My research so far indicates that it may be Microsorum brassii.

The other grows to around 6 inches and has leaves slightly slimmer than what I've described above. Leaves have a different texture and vein pattern. Some sori have appeared, but it's too soon to say how they will really look. It also grows in a tight clump (instead of a long rhizome). There's an old PAM article by Karen Randall that pictures the 'short narrow leaf' Java fern. It may be that.

There is more than just pteropus out there, but fern experts are hard to find. I'm still searching for the Dr. Tan of ferns! :wink:
 

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I have java ferns from the same mother plant which stay small (2 inch leaves) in a no-CO2, low light, low energy (no fert) nanotank. They still attach themselves to the wood and produce new growth though. Siblings in a high light/CO2 tank produce fronds up to 20 cm long. Plants are so plastic.

For the so-called nanas and nana 'petite', I have a regular nana in the same nanotank which produces very small new foliage, which most would mistake for 'petite.' Specimens of 'petite' (from Oriental's farm) that I have placed in my other tank (containing also regular nanas) for over 6 months remain tiny (a typical petite plant [rhizome with 6-7 leaves] would fit comfortably on a single regular nana leaf.
 

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This is great. It answered a question I was just wondering about (CO2, lighting, ferts on ferns). The funny thing is that it has created another question about an unknown (to me anyways) species.
 

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I have a plant that is over a year old and the longest leaves are 3 inches. Its under 96 watts of CF lighting. I actually want it to grow large.... :?
 

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Java ferns

As Cavan mentioned, I have the "old fashion" small Java fern that has been in the hobby since before I was involved in the hobby.<g> This is certainly NOT 1-2" in good conditions, but it is WAY smaller than the typical large forms. As a gauge to how big it might get in your tanks, I would estimate that it is reliably no more than 1/3 the height of the "normal" types under the same conditions. Besides size, another difference between this fern and "normal" pteropus is that even in very, very old stands, you never see trilobate leaves developing. I have grown this fern in the same tans as the larger types for over 15 years and can reliably tell the difference between them. I don't know the species, but the consensus among experts is that this little one is probably NOT pteropus.

I've never heard this type labeled as "dwarf" though, so I don't know if it's what you're looking for.

Karen
 

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cS said:
"Split narrow leaf". In the pic, it looked like narrow leaf with "Tropica" dentitions. [...] I do have a poor scanned image of it, probably not worth posting it here though.
I am an image junkie so please post it. PM if you'd prefer. :biggrin:
I do have narrow leaf that splits on the top like Winderluv.. I think its because of water conditions as well...

Cheers
Vincent
 

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i have the real "dwarf" before that grew to only 1 and a half inch max height and the leaves were less than half a centimeter in width. It was attached to a driftwood with no shade in a high light/co2 tank but it never took off like the normal ones ie: 2-3 new leaves in a month but it took 6 months to double its size from 1" clump to 2" (too slow that i stupidly decided to throw it away and now i'm searching for it in LFS with no luck for a bout a year now (i got it from big al's but they just say they'll take orders but the plants i ordered never came in-their excuse is they got replacements cuz its unavailable ATM)
So there seem to be a real dwarf version but i guess u can force it to be a bonsai from other peoples testimonial but i'm not willing to experiment cuz it seem too time consuming....oh well good luck to everyone trying to find it i guess
 

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Many plants can vary greatly in size and shape, and I am sure Java fern is no exception. I have gotten Java fern from Florida aquatic nurseries where the leaves measured over 20 inches from rhizome to tip, with only two leaves on the rhizome, and I have gotten plants 3" tall with several leaves on the rhizome. I presume they are the same specie.

There are many new genetic cultivars coming out now, and I guess it is possible there is a dwarf version that some nursery somewhere created. There are two well known cultivars that I am sure all of you are aware of: the Windelov and the Tropica. The Windelov has lacey fronds on the ends of the leaves, and the Tropica version is a much wider leaf than the standard. Both of these cultivars were derived from the same parent plants collected from Java according to Tropica, (Kasselmann).

The narrow leaf Java fern is from Oriental Aquarium's catalog and I believe is their exclusive, however they do not have it listed as a cultivar.

For the so-called nanas and nana 'petite', I have a regular nana in the same nanotank which produces very small new foliage, which most would mistake for 'petite.' Specimens of 'petite' (from Oriental's farm) that I have placed in my other tank (containing also regular nanas) for over 6 months remain tiny (a typical petite plant [rhizome with 6-7 leaves] would fit comfortably on a single regular nana leaf.
That is because the true petite nana is a geneticaly engineered cultivar, just as the marble leaf Anubias, stardust, varigated, narrow leaf and so forth. In the marble and varigated it is a recessive gene. I remember Tom Barr used to talk about it a few years ago when he seemed to be the first person to get a hold of "white" anubias. I am sure he could explain it a lot better. The same thing can be done to any plant to affect size and leaf shape.
 

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While it is certainly possible that some growers are working on Java fern cultivars, there is also a great deal of variability in the wild plants. That does not make them different species BTW... New England Asters are incredibly variable in the wild, ranging from tall plants with pale lavender flowers to short, ground hugging types with deep purple flowers.

Even before Windelov and Tropica Java ferns were commercially available, Claus Christensen and I discussed them. He told me that while these very like did "develop" in the Tropica greenhouses, they were NOT an intentional cultivar. Someone there just happened to notice a few plants with a different growth pattern among a collection of plants that were being propagated in the normal way. They took advantage of what nature had done for them, and continued to propagate these "fancy" varieties. But they did not set out to intentionally produce a "different" Java fern.

As far as narrow leaf Javas are concerned, there are many. Again, I had the opportunity to see a number of slightly different types at Tropica. Most were wild-collected plants, all had different attributes. Some won't grow under water, others do, but so slowly that they are not commerncially viable. The trick, when bringing a new plant to market, is to find plants that are successful under "normal" tank conditions, AND that can be propagated quickly enough to meet market demand. There are many fewer that meet these criteria.

There are a number of already discovered Microsorum species besides pteropus, though it is not clear how many of these can withstand permanently submersed conditions. How many of the types of "Java fern" currently in the hobby are truly M. pteropus, and which ones might be a different Microsorum sp. is open to speculation until a taxonomist wants to take the genus on as a pet project.<g>

Karen
 
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