Common Name: Madagascar Lace Plant
The genus name Aponogeton comes from the Greek words, a meaning
without, pono meaning toil; ge meaning earth and ton meaning stretched.
This probably refers to the effect of how the tubers grow their leaves
up so quickly, without seeming to have to work at it.
Synonyms: Uvivandra madagascariensis, Aponogeton fenestralis,
Aponogeton henkelianus, Aponogeton guillotii
Origin: Africa, Madagascar
Temperature Range: 15-26°C (59-79°F)
Light: Medium – High, but prefers a diffused light.
Difficulty: High, not a beginner’s plant
This plant is very easily identified. It has a unique growth pattern.
The leaves are very disctinctive. The leaf on Aponogeton
madagascariensis does not fill in completely like other plants. All
that there is showing on the leaf are the veins and their support
structures. This leaves the plant looking like delicate lace.
As with all things really worth trying for, Aponogeton madagascariensis
is hard to find and hard to grow. It was in such a high demand that it
almost went extinct in its native habitat. It has a tuber just like all
the other Aponogeton sp. There are 4 varieties of Madagascar Lace
plant. There is a narrow leaved variety called Aponogeton
madagascariensis var. guillotii; Aponogeton madagascariensis var.
fenestralis, and Aponogeton madagascariensis var. henkelianus. There is
also the main variety, Aponogeton madagascariensis var.
madagascariensis. Guillotii is a large plant and has purple flowers
that can self-pollinate. The madagascariensis has a flower spike that
is split into two at the top so that it’s like having 2 spikes. These
flowers are also self-fertile.
The leaves on this plant can grow to a height of 25-50cm (10-20”)
and a width of 25-30cm (10-12” approx). Since this is such a large
plant, it will (if it grows for you!) turn into a tank showpiece.
Propagation is achieved by the splitting the tuber or by seeds. The
flower seeds are very difficult to germinate. Flowers are rare.
Many specimens are produced with tissue culture. Aponogeton
madagascariensis prefers diffused indirect light as it originates in
the wild from streams with shady banks and no direct sunlight.
This specialty plant has a large
number of demands it places. It needs to be kept in tanks that are
given lots of water changes. This goes to water quality. They also need
a nutrient rich substrate. Even if you keep this plant in perfect
conditions, it will sometimes just die on you for no apparent reason.
I received a few (4) tubers of this plant from a friend who knew I’d
wanted them! The price was right. Generally, this is an expensive
plant, but the tubers were of a price that made it worth his while to
get a few of them. When I got home with the tubers, they went into a
couple of different tanks. I placed 2 tubers into each tank. One tank
is a 30 gallon with low light, but does get diffused daylight. This
tank is kept at about 78°F. There are two sponge filters. There is
one Bolbitis plant in there. It’s got a light dusting of sand on the
bottom and some wood and a few rocks for decoration for the Bolivian
rams that inhabit the tank. The other tank was a 90 gallon discus tank.
This tank is kept at 84°F. This tank is more heavily planted with
Cryptocoryne griffithii, Hygrophilia angustifolia, and some small sag
sp. There is a fairly thick layer of gravel in this tank. There are 2
Aquaclear filters and a sponge filter in this tank. This tank also has
2 fluorescent bulbs that are on for approximately 13-14 hours a day.
This tank gets biweekly water changes at the very least, and get more
as they are needed. I placed the bulbs on the bottom and let them do
their thing. I did not bury any part of the tuber as I wasn’t sure if
that would let the Aponogeton bulb rot. All of the tubers sprouted
leaves (In fact, a couple had a few leaves already growing when I got
them!). One, however, did a lot better than the others did. It was
quite near some of the Hygrophilia. Once the leaves reached about 4” long,
a flower spike starting growing up from this plant. It’s leaves started
growing through the Hygro leaves and the tuber stopped being on the
bottom, and was raised up a few inches from the substrate with roots
reaching back down towards the gravel. It started growing its flower
spike at a fantastic rate. You could see growth every day; sometimes as
much as 6”. Once it reached the surface, you could see the double spike
on the top with its white flowers. I did try to help self-pollinate the
plant but never saw any seeds come out of the process. The flower spike
lasted for a few days and then started to melt. After this, the leaves
really took off in their growth. As I write this, the leaves are about
12” long and 2” wide. So far, all of the tubers
are still alive. If you have the space, the money and the proper setup
for this plant, I HIGHLY recommend it to try.
Copyright 2005 Lisa Boorman
Plants : Their Identification, Cultivation and Ecology by Karel
Rataj & Thomas J. Horeman
To check other plant references:
Pond Book List
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