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Echinodorus berteroi

Cellophane sword

Echinodorus berteroi

Cellophane sword

  • Exceptional Echinodorus species
  • Transparent, variable submerged leaves
  • Heart-shaped aerial leaves and branched inflorescences
  • Rarity, hardly available in trade
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The Upright burhead or Cellophane sword is an extraordinary species, distinct from other Echinodorus in many respects. Echinodorus berteroi is known as aquarium plant for a long time but nowadays hardly available in trade. This amphibious member of the Waterplantain family has a vast distribution, from the midwestern U.S. in the north through the Tropics down to Patagonia in the south. Alismataceae is a large swamp plant, occurring from eastern North America to South America. It is found on lakeshores, in ponds, ditches and swamps. It occurs mostly as an annual plant in ponds that fall dry periodically. The plants germinate under water from the seeds, developing strap-shaped, then lanceolate to ovate submerged leaves, followed by heart-shaped floating and aerial leaves. Eventually its multi-branched inflorescences grow out of the water, with small white flowers, followed by prickly fruits with many achenes. The diverse submerged foliage has a very decorative transparent, thin texture (therefore "Cellophane sword"), with the venation forming a conspicuous light grid pattern. The newest leaves show golden green to reddish tones. This Echinodorus may become more than 50 cm tall in its submerged form but can also stay much smaller, depending on conditions.

Echinodorus berteroi gets along with moderate lighting, growing most luxuriantly with nutrient-rich substrate. CO2 supply is not a must but enhances the growth. The delicate submerged foliage is brittle and prone to damage by snails and other herbivores. After many submerged leaves, floating and emersed leaves will appear, especially under long-day conditions (more than 12 h light per day). This can be at least delayed by short-day lighting (coherent daily light period of less than 12 hours) and poorer substrate. Otherwise Echinodorus berteroi can be kept as half-emersed plant in topless aquariums where also its inflorescences can be expected. Sometimes daughter plants develop at the base of the leaf rosette, but sowing is the most productive propagation method. The fruit set is guaranteed by self-pollinaton, and ripe dry achenes stay germinable for some years. For sowing, they can be scattered into a vessel with water and substrate such as loamy sand. First seedlings may appear after about one week.

With its transparent, variously shaped submerged foliage, the Cellophane sword is a strking species that is also interesting with its amphibious life cycle and response to day length. Large specimens make impressive solitary plants in spacious aquariums. Also the heart-shaped emersed leaves and branched inflorescences of Echinodorus berteroi are pleasing to the eyes in open aquariums and larger paludariums.

Please be aware that the submerse form of this plant could contain snails and other invertebrates.

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