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  Botanical Question
From: Theodore Held <oppenhauser2001 at gmail.com> on 2015.10.05 at 10:38:18(23483)
Dear List,

I've been quiet here for a while, but a question came up and I seek advice from knowledgeable individuals.

As many of you know, I am a specialist in the aquatic genus Cryptocoryne, which are essentially swamp plants from tropical southeast Asia.

The form I am interested in is (probably) one of a number of varieties of the Sri Lankan species C. wendtii. This is probably the most numerous species in cultivation and includes at least 10 to 20 different forms. This one is called C. "versicolor" in the commercial trade.

The curiosity I have stems from the observation that this cultivar develops inflorescences that never seem to open. The buds look normal. Dissecting them shows them to be in the general category of C. wendtii. But the buds develop right to the point when the normal varieties would open and present themselves to fertilization. But instead of opening, the buds finally wither and die off after a week or so.

A possible additional curiosity is that this form develops a nest of buds from the same crown, whereas the normal varieties tend to produce only a single inflorescence at a time, with perhaps a month or more before producing another from the same crown (my use of the term "crown" meaning the nexus of leaves in which the meristem lies). In my experience, the nest of buds matures one at a time, but scarcely any time between when a fresh one becomes mature and its predecessor has collapsed.

Clearly, this habit is not evolutionarily desirable. I'm guessing that this is simply a side result of commercial cultivation and selection. But it's unusual in my experience to find this sort of maladaptation.

Other than that, these plants grow well, submerged or emerse. They are, consequently, desirable for aquarists who may not be especially skillful with plants (and some of these Cryptocoryne tax the patience of even the best horticulturists).

Any ideas, botanists/hobbyists?

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From: "Ertelt, Jonathan B" <jonathan.ertelt at Vanderbilt.Edu> on 2015.10.05 at 14:02:12(23484)
Ted -

One answer would be that it is surviving precisely because it is a cultivar. Mal-adaptations, as you put it, occur in nature just like the ones that lead to better, stronger plants. The difference is that in nature they tend to die out over time precisely because
they are not advantageous. But plants donít just produce just good changes Ė if they did we would talk about directional evolution instead of random. We donít find these mal-adaptations very much because they donít tend to last long, except when we prop. them.
Good Growing!

Jonathan

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