Aponogeton madagascariensis

Family: Aponogetonaceae

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)

pH: 5-7.5

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.Madagascar Lace flower in my tank

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 ofMad lace main plant when small 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
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

Aquarium Plants : Their Identification, Cultivation and Ecology by Karel Rataj & Thomas J. Horeman

To check other plant references:

Plant and Pond Book List

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