Friday, January 14, 2011

An underwater flower!

Ok, so I am cheating a little here. This is not actually a garden related post, but it does feature an interesting flower! And a flower in mid January is always welcome. Granted, it's not the most beautiful flower ever, but still...

This photo is of the inflorescence of Anubias nana, a tropical aroid, flowering happily away underwater. In my aquarium! Being fascinated by aroids in general I thought that this was interesting enough to make it to the blog.

Anubias is a small genus containing only around 12 species, and as the name suggests, Anubias nana is the smallest. In the wild, this plant grows in moist, shady river banks in tropical West Africa and would be fully submerged for a few months each year during times of flood. It seems to take to a totally submerged life well in my aquarium and grows strongly. Being a shade lover, it does not require bright lighting. In fact, leaving the lights off and allowing natural daylight to filter in to the tank seems to induce it to flower. It produces a handful of these delicate creamy-white spathes each year. This one has been out now for a couple of weeks, and is a typical aroid flower. If you look carefully, the male and female parts of the spadix can be seen.

I am guessing that in natural conditions, A. nana would flower whilst out of the water in order for pollination to occur, and I still find it surprising that it should flower at all when growing permanently submerged!

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