Inspire91 here again with another post about a group of plants commonly labeled with the name, “star plants”. Hopefully I have some return-readers :), and welcome to those of you who are new to this blog! Take a look at the previous post for a short synopsis of who I am, my interests, and what this site will provide!
This time I will be focusing on the genus Syngonanthus, formerly known by the genus of Tonina, which now refers to such plants as the common Tonina fluviatilis. These aren’t as popular as their “star plant”-rosette cousins, Eriocaulons, yet they still have some flare that cannot be elsewhere. These plants are quite widespread in South America, mainly within Brazil are the most beautiful in my opinion. Being that this genus is quite widespread, there can be a wide variety of different locales, each with a distinct feature/characteristic.
Requirements:These plants can be quite demanding when it comes to their environment. Their water requirements are somewhat specific (acidic and soft), with some species being easier to grow than others. Generally speaking, they do best in a temperature of about 22-28*C, pH of about 4-5 is preferred, and a GH of about 1-3 is also preferred. If not given these water parameters, they have a tendency to stunt (especially at their crown) and their speed of growth greatly decreases (more noticeably than other stem plants). They also will flourish in a stronger amount of light, in the field, these plants occur in shallow streams and are in full sunlight with no over-hanging trees etc.
Propagation:These plants aren’t any different from propagation any other stem/bunch plant. Cuttings can be made, or off-shoots can be cut off and replanted. An issue I had run into when working with these plants is that their tops can become quite thick, blocking a good amount of light from reaching any part of the stem below the crown. That then resulted in the root/lower parts of the plant rotting and/or becoming quite weak, so try to avoid keeping the cuttings too close to each other, give them some space between crowns. These plants also love any area with a current, they really dislike any detritus settling on them, especially around the base of the stem (thus resulting in rotting of that area).
This is a Syngonanthus from, “Manaus” in Brazil. In my experiences, this is the 2nd most common Syngonanthus behind the, “Belem” variety, although it hasn’t quite made a very strong foothold in the hobby due to the fact that it is not as easy to grow as the, “Belem” variety. This particular species is quite sensitive to water parameters.
This is a particularly new variety of Syngonanthus out of, “Madeira” Brazil. I found this variety to be easier to grow than the, “Manaus” variety. The most unique characteristic of this variety is that it’s crown can get quite large, I had grown specimens with crowns up to 2 inches+ in diameter. Another characteristic as you can see is that unlike the “Belem” variety, the leaves don’t curl underneath the crown.
The following pictures is just a comparison between Manaus and Madeira, as some people may not notice the difference between the two.
This is by far the most common variety of Syngonanthus spread throughout the hobby. The variety of “Belem” that I was working with was actually collected from the Belem area of Brazil. I really wanted to work with a wild specimen, as I had worked with cuttings from various fellow hobbyists, and was unsure of their origin. When I compared the various specimens of “Belem”, I found that this particular variety below, had much more “curling” of the leaves, as well as the crown was a bit larger and “fuller”. This may have just been that the original specimen of those cuttings I received from hobbyists had come from a different are within Belem, although easily I fell in love with the wild specimen as it was much more beautiful.
The following pictures are of various “variety” tanks, at Japanese pet stores. The Japanese really appreciate the fine-details and differences in things in general, and so it’s no surprise that the collectors would go out of their way to find as many varieties as possible! You will also see some other varieties of Eriocaulon and Tonina, as these “variety” tanks are mainly comprised of “Star plants” (Eriocaulon, Tonina, and Syngonanthus).
If you ever plan to buy plants from Japan, be sure you bring a full wallet! Japanese prices are considered high all around including the aquarium hobby, but that’s ok with me because the Japanese really provide quality goods.
The prices listed below are anywhere from $3-$10 a stem, and $12-$40 for 3 stem packs. The varieties listed below include from places such as: Sao Gabriel, Iquitos, Tocantins, Sao Paulo, Tefe, and Negro, just to name a few, and thats only half of the list!
This last picture I meant to post with the previous post, but here it is, a shot of a variety tank of Eriocaulons at another Japanese pet store. I took this picture back in 2004, these plants weren’t even popular, let alone known, maybe to a select few in the hobby in the US. It was a sign of an incoming storm of popularity of these “Star plants”. If you can believe it, some of the prices listed for these wild collected specimens were from $120 to $180 a piece! That’s the price you pay for quality rare plants 🙂
Thanks for checking this post out!
Hope you all enjoyed it! 🙂
Take care, Inspire91