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Altenanthera reineckii/Betalains

I saw the following information listed in a university reference and hope it 

Alternanthera reineckii
Common name — scarlet hygro

This is an extremely variable South American species. Most of the 
Alternanthera commercially available under different “species” names, are 
actually variants of A. reineckii. Some of the names I’ve seen are A. 
cardinalis, A. lilacina and A. rosaefolia.

A. reineckii is the only Alternanthera species currently in commercial 
propagation that is suitable for long-term aquarium growth. It is a striking 
plant with bright red stems and leaves that vary from bronze to green on the 
top, and are brilliant scarlet below. Because of its bright color, it makes 
an excellent contrast plant.

The problem with this plant is that it is not easy to grow. It does best 
under strong lighting with supplemental CO2 and regular trace element 
supplementation. Under conditions to its liking, it grows quite quickly, and 
will need regular topping. The top sections can be replanted, while the 
bottoms will branch just below the area that is trimmed, causing a bushier 
growth. Make sure, however, that a stand is not allowed to become too dense 
or the lower parts of the plant will suffer from lack of light.

And onward to the Betalain comcern:

Betalains are an unrelated class of nitrogen-containing vacuolar pigments 
(betalain chemistry and biosynthesis), and they occur in only one major 
lineage of dicotyledons, the centrosperms, which includes cacti (Examples: 
beaver-tail cactus, hedgehog cactus, and an Arizona cactus), bougainvillea, 
portulaca, ice plants, and beets. Betalains may be purple to red (base forms, 
betacyanins), orange to yellow (acid forms, betaxanthins), and often the 
color is bright and vibrant.  When color fades it is usually due to 
insufficient lighting or life cycle of the plant ending.

If you want to go to a web page that shows a diagram of what actually 
happens, go to:


James Watford
Columbia, SC