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This long- and narrow-leaved plant resembles Vallisneria nana but belongs to the "chain swords" of the genus Helanthium. It entered the aquarium hobby in Europe in the 1960s under the name Echinodorus angustifolius. Nowadays it is rather rarely available. It is an amphibious plant that's said to originate in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. When it falls dry, it develops its emersed stage with much shorter, lanceolate aerial leaves and inflorescences with white flowers. The light to medium green, strap-shaped underwater leaves get more than 50 cm long and about 3-4 mm wide. This rosette plant sprouts long runners with a chain of many young plants above the bottom. It is the wild type of the cultivar 'Vesuvius' that was selected in the nursery Oriental in Singapore.
The Narrow-leaf swordplant is a quite easy, fast growing aquarium plant. Medium lighting is sufficient, the favourable temperatures lie between 20 and 28 °C and the carbonate hardness may reach about 12 °KH. As well as other plants of the Alismataceae family, it benefits much from a nutrient-rich bottom. An adequate iron supply is important to prevent chlorosis (pale green new leaves). Favourable conditions lead to rampant growth of runners that can be cut off before they get out of hand.
Helanthium bolivianum 'Angustifolius' looks decorative as a grass-like, freshly green stand in the background of an aquarium. The long leaves look especially well in tall tanks (more than 60 cm high). In lower aquariums they form long floating swathes beneath the surface. This classic aquarium plant is occasionally used for aquascapes in the Japanese nature aquarium style.
Helanthium bolivianum "Angustifolius", better known under its former name Echinodorus angustifolius, originates probably from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Even though the plant grows quite high when submersed it is counted among the "smaller" sword plants forming runners, which have been placed in a genus of their own (Helanthium) different from the genus Echinodorus. Christel Kasselmann and Gitte Petersen identified H. bolivianum "Angustifolius" as a triploid form of Helanthium bolivianum (= Echinodorus bolivianus) by counting its chromosomes. In Europe, this Helanthium species has been known since the sixties of the last century, whereas it is still quite new to the hobby in the USA. (read more)
Helanthium bolivianum "Angustifolius", better known under its former name Echinodorus angustifolius, originates probably from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Even though the plant grows quite high when submersed it is counted among the "smaller" sword plants forming runners, which have been placed in a genus of their own (Helanthium) different from the genus Echinodorus. Christel Kasselmann and Gitte Petersen identified H. bolivianum "Angustifolius" as a triploid form of Helanthium bolivianum (= Echinodorus bolivianus) by counting its chromosomes. In Europe, this Helanthium species has been known since the sixties of the last century, whereas it is still quite new to the hobby in the USA.
In the trade, another plant is available under the name Echinodorus angustifolius, which differs from the "old" form, staying considerably smaller and forming denser leaf rosettes under the same environmental conditions.
The light green, band-like submersed leaves of H. bolivianum "Angustifolius" grow to a width of about 3 to 4 mm and up to a length of about 50, sometimes even over 60 cm. However, under strong light they tend to stay shorter. The plant reminds strongly of Vallisneria nana.
H. bolivianum "Angustifolius" is not a finicky plant, however, it needs sufficient trace elements to look its best. An iron deficiency often leads to pale colours. It can be remedied by adding a micronutrient fertiliser to the substrate or by well-dosed liquid fertiliser via the water column. Strong light and an additional CO2 fertilisation enhance growth, however, both are not necessarily required, which makes this plant also suitable for tanks with less intensive light and no CO2 fertilisation, where it grows more slowly.
As we already mentioned, Helanthium bolivianum "Angustifolius" reproduces by runners. Once established in the tank it has been known to spread quite invasively and has to be kept in check carefully. Young plants of about 20 cm in height may crop up literally overnight.
Unlike the other sword plants forming runners, H. bolivianum "Angustifolius" is not suitable to create lawnlike structures in the forground. However, it is an ideal plant for the middle- and background as well as the sides of an aquarium and is a great alternative to those Vallisneria species generally used for this purpose.
When cultivated emersed, H. bolivianum "Angustifolius" stays considerably smaller than the submersed form, and it looks more similar to the other forms of the Helanthium bolivianum group. Its emersed leaves are linear to narrow lanceolate, 6 to 15 cm long and 6 to 10 mm wide. Its umbellate or two-whorled inflorescence with tiny white flowers appear mostly under short day conditions, whereas under long day conditions (over 12 hours of light per day) it mostly forms runners.
|Synonyms||Echinodorus angustifolius Rataj|
|Complete botanical name||Helánthium boliviánum (Rusby) Lehtonen & Myllys|
|pH value||5 - 7|
|Temperature tolerance||10 - 30°C|
|Carbonate hardness||0 - 14°dKH|
|General hardness||0 - 30°dGH|
|Can grow emersed?||yes|
|Echinodorus angustifolius Rataj|
|Complete botanical name|
|Helánthium boliviánum (Rusby) Lehtonen & Myllys|
|5 - 7|
|10 - 30°C|
|0 - 14°dKH|
|0 - 30°dGH|
|Can grow emersed?|