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Heteranthera z. aka "Stargrass"


This plant grows both horizontally and vertically, but I'll bet there's more 
light in your newer tank, right? More light seems to encourage the typical 
horizontal or substrate spread, IME. H. zosterifolia can make a nice looking 
plant grouping, but like many hedges outside, it will tend to produce a shape 
with a hollow, leafless center full of debris eventually. When pruned to 
reveal this - it isn't a pretty picture and I haven't found a good solution 
for this as yet. 

Careful trimming to the closest node when shaping, along with the selective 
use of complete, substrate level amputation here and there to thin clumps, 
has produced the nicest looking groups for me. I had a really impressive 
mountain of it once, but drastic, poorly thought out and executed pruning 
while in a fit of creative stupidity one night put an end to it. Like most 
men with a bad haircut, I ended up buzzing it.

Hetera z. often has long, white roots it sends down into the substrate as it 
grows taller and these tend to anchor and further pull the plant into a more 
horizontal growth pattern. Come to think of it, I've never seen this plant 
growing straight up like Limno., Cabomba or even Hygro. Anyway, these roots 
can be annoying. 

"Stargrass" also has a tendency to get black tips, perhaps because it is a 
tender plant and easily bruised or maybe because I keep Flagfish with mine. 
There again this could be some chemical deficiency, as others have proposed - 
but I suspect a mechanical cause as mine look too much like tissue trauma 
when examined under magnification.

Emerged, it will produce an abundance of pale violet flowers that scatter 
seed everywhere. I have some outside and little Hetera z. sprouts spring up 
everywhere - along with glosso, Hemianthus micranthemoides, Alternanthera and 
Hygro. sp. to name a few. 

I don't want to get all preachy or make anyone gag, but we probably all need 
to be really careful with the plants we now have at least some measure of 
control over - since I'll bet several of the newer, less widely known and 
distributed species (like Eusteralis) could easily escape domestication and 
become established in several areas of the country. 

When that happens, we can be sure that restrictive legislation we have far 
less control over, as in California, will be proposed - perhaps enacted, and 
this will do none of us much good. I say this as much to myself as anyone, 
for I am as guilty or innocent as the next person of cultivating these things.

I hate to even bring this up, since this is how rumors get started, but...

Bob Olesen