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Water sprite questions

Karl Schoeler wrote:

>Actually there are at least four plants which are called water sprite by
>many people. They are: Ceratopteris pteroides, Ceratopteris thalictroides,
>Ceratopteris siliquosa, and Hygrophila difformis.  
>C. pteroides seems to do best on the surface, While the other three will do
>well either planted or left floating.  However, if planted C. thalictroides
>and C. siliqousa become very large.  I say large because they have the
>capability to be both tall and wide.  One specimen can cover a third of a
>75gal aquarium.
>Other names used for these plants include Indian Fern amd Water Wisteria.
>The Rataj Aquarium Plants atlas has an excellent picture of Hygrophila
>difformis on page 116.  Pages  122-127 show decent pictures of the other
>three.  My personal favorite is C. siliquosa.  This fine-leafed plant
>grows rapidly enough to harvest 30 to 40 young plants in a 75gal in less
>than a month.  Although it is not generally available in the industry,
>I have seen it come in with plant shipments from Singapore.
>There was confusion at one time that C. thalictroides and C siliquosa were
>the same plants grown under different conditions.  Having raised all four
>in identical conditions it is obvious they were correctly identified in
>the Rataj/Horeman atlas.

David Soh wrote:

>They are two forms of the same plant. I am definite because I bought mine
>in the wide leaf form, then I weighed them down and planted them in the
>substrate. Eventually, they formed new leaves of the narrow kind. 

>Any responses from other list members ??

I've got to side with Karl on this one, although let's take H. difformis
out of the group... that's simply a mistake, as H. difformis (also known as
Water Wisteria) is a flowering plant, not a fern and is not even remotely
related to the other three.

I won't go so far as to positively identify the 3 "Water Sprites" in the
hobby at the species level, but there are, without questions at least 3
different Ceratopteris sp. available in the hobby. Rataj's break down is C.
pteroides, C. thalictroides and C. siliquosa.  Baensch identifies 3
overlapping species as C. pteridioides, C. cornuta and C. thalictroides.
Kasselmann has them as C. cornuta, C. Pteridoides and C thalictroides.

I _will_ tell you what the 3 types I've worked with look like.  _None_ have
been as broad leafed as that shown as C. pteroides in Rataj, and as C.
pteridioides in Baensch.  It is my understanding that this plant does _not_
do well planted and submerged... that it is a true floater.  Anyone with
personal experience on this plant?  The photo of this plant in the
Kasselmann book shows emersed growth, so is not representative of what we
usually see in the aquarium.

The plant shown and C. thalicroides(sic) on page 123 in Rataj, and as C.
cornuta in Baensch, we sell at our club auctions as "Broad Leafed Water
Sprite".  The plant shown as C. thalictroides in Baensch and Kasselmann,
and as C. thalicroides(sic) on pg. 120 in Rataj we sell as "Fine Leaf Water

The third type is one I found about a year ago languishing in a corner of a
grower's greenhouse without a name.  Claus Cristensen was with me at the
time, and says they have this plant in commercial production in Europe.
His belief was that it was a form of C. thalictroides, but it is
_definitely_ different than the plant usual seen with that name.  It is
_much_ more finely divided than what we call "fine leaf" around here.
Might it be the planted Rataj calls C. Siliquosa?  If so, it is still much
more finely divided than the plant he shows under that name on page 127.
To differentiate it from the other forms available in this area, we have
started calling it "Thread Leaf Water Sprite".  Whatever it is, it is IMO
the prettiest of the available types.

While it is true that _all_ Ceratopteris sp. are quite variable in form
depending on growing conditions, there are still several distinct types
(species?) that can easily be differentiated if grown side-by-side.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association