Saturday, January 23, 2010

Anubias’ prickles

I’m sure that you heard about cactuses’ thorns or roses’ prickles, so it can’t surprise you, but such emergences among aquarian plants are very seldom. First of all we should define such words as “thorns” and “prickles”. Thorns are hard acuminate emergences of plants; they appear as the result of the stem, leaf, root or their parts’ metamorphosis. Prickles are strong, acerous emergences of the plants’ epidermis. Not long ago we noticed that some species of Anubias have small (up to 2 mm in length) mucronated emergences on the petioles. Taking into consideration their size and location we can say that in our case we deal with prickles.

For the first time we found such prickles accidentally, when we “weeded out” greenhouse with the large species among which was also Anubias heterophylla. The petioles of this Anubias were covered with small prickles; they were so edgy that you could easily scratch your hands. Then we check all adult bushes of more than 30 Anubias’ species and their varieties and found out that such emergences have Anubias afzelii, A. gilletii, A. heterophylla ‘Spathulata’, A. ‘Frazeri’ и A. barteri var.caladiifolia ‘Variegated’. We should mention once more, that only adult bushes have such prickles on the petioles (2-3 years old bushes, which were grown up in greenhouse conditions) and such unusual emergences are situated along the full length of the petioles, but there are more of them in the lower part. Young plants of the noted species have absolutely smooth petioles.

Prickles of A. heterophylla 'Spathulata':

Practically there is no information about Anubias’ prickles in the literature. Christel Kasselmann noted in her book “Aquarium Plants” that Anubias gilletii, A.hastifolia and A. pynaertii had such emergencies. Also Josef Bogner with other co-authors wrote about Anubias’ prickles in the article concerning the family Araceae from the forth volume of the encyclopedia “The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants” (2006), but without any concretization of species. And there is no information concerning the role of these prickles.

But plants’ thorns and prickles have a biological meaning; first of all it’s a defense from animals and decrease of transpiration (plants of arid region). The Anubias prickles aren’t connected with the tendency to decrease evaporating surface, perhaps it’s only the defense from herbivores. We haven’t any information whether this plant is a nutritive base for the mammals at the places of their natural growth, but many times we observed, that these Araceae become the dainty dish for usual greenflies. Indirectly it proves that the tissues of these plants don’t contain any high-toxic substances and as opposed to Aglaonema and Dieffenbachia, which belong to the same family, they can be eatable. For reasons given we make a conclusion that Anubias’ prickles can be a sign of the plants’ zoophobia.

The prickles which we observe are declinate a bit and practically similar with roses thorns. In connection with this we can single out one more function of these emergencies – clutch at support and stand in grass, it’s very important in condition of the intense competition for sunlight in thick tropical forest. This reason for the presence of the prickles is more probable.

Petioles of A. afzelii:

Anubias are one of the mysterious plants in aquarium and we are sure, that in the future they will spring many surprises on their owners.

The authors of this note: Dmitry Loginov and Sergey Gerasimov.

The note is based on the next article: D. Loginov, S. Gerasimov “Anubias prickles”, Russian Journal “Aquarium”, 2009, № 3.

Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Vladislav Elbakyan, Dmitry Loginov and Sergey Gerasimov.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back in the USSR

Thanks to the hydrobotanic and one of the famous popularizer of the aquarian plants M.D. Mahlin the Anubias-plants appeared in USSR in 1960. They were Anubias afzelii, A. congensis and A. nana. In the next 30 years more than 20 varieties of these plants crossed a border of the country. The Anubias appeared on the territory of the USSR accidentally, only 1-2 bushes of each species. Then these plants were propagated vegetatively and spread among fanciers and collectors. Some bushes, especially rare species had an astronomical price. After collapse of the USSR, Asian and European farms began to supply Russian market with Anubias. As the result many old species and varieties were supplanted by new breeds and commercial names. Many species were lost and now it is very difficult to find them in free sale. But we can see some of them in different corners of our huge country. First of all, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg botanical gardens, the workers of which could save the collection of the Anubias in the difficult years of the country, when the financing was reduced. More than that there are some examples of private fanciers’ collections, which are still exist. In this note we are going to tell you about one of these collections.

Sergey Bodyagin began to take a great interest in Anubias in 1985. In spite of the fact that he was living in a small town (Ohansk, region Perm and the population is 10000), he could collect practically all species of the Anubias by that time. This collection is still the same now. Plants with “soviet” names A.spec.elliptica, A.spec.rotundifolia, A.spec.erubescens, A.spec.spathulata are successfully cultivated on the Kama’s banks. More than that Sergey Bodyagin very often uses the seed propagation of his Anubias. Particularly with the help of this method it became possible to receive very quickly a big population of each species and by means of interspecific hybridization to create new hybrid plants, which are differ from their parents by lamina form.

There are some examples of these hybrids:

A. barteri var. barteri x A. barteri var. caladiifolia
A. barteri var. nana x A. barteri var. caladiifolia
A. barteri var. caladiifolia x A. barteri var. na
A. barteri var. nana x A. barteri var. barteri

A. barteri var. caladiifolia x A. barteri var. barteri
A. barteri var. nana x A. gilletii

A. gigantea x A. barteri var. caladifolia

A. barteri var. caladiifolia x A. gigantea
A. barteri var. caladiifolia x A. аfzelii

A. аfzelii x A. barteri var. caladiifolia
A. barteri var. nana x A. аfzelii

A. аfzelii x A. barteri var. caladiifolia
A. barteri var. nana x A. lanceolata

A. hastifolia x A. barteri var. nana
A. barteri var. nana x A. gigantea

Some of the hybrid inherited from their parents not only decorative but also some useful biological features. For example, hybrid on the basis of A. barteri var. nana can be cultivated in aquarium. Besides micton-plants have usually a more active growth and viability.
Further you can see some photos of Sergey Bodyagin’s Anubias.

A.spec.undulatus var.angustifolia:

Inflorescence of A. barteri var. caladiifolia:

Inflorescence and fruit of A.barteri var.nana:

Stems of A. gilletii:

Fruit of A. gigantea:

Young seedlings of A. gigantea:

Hybrid of A. gracilis х A. barteri var. caladiif

These and many other photos you can see on the website:

The author of this note: Dmitry Loginov.

The author used info from the next Web pages: and

Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Sergey Bodyagin.