Jan D. Bastmeijer & Niels Jacobsen
It is shown that Cryptocoryne scurrilis De Wit does not match the present day cultivated plants known under that name. A new species is described for these plants: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis Bastmeijer. The real Cryptocoryne scurrilis is not known in cultivation, but recent collections from Bintan, a small island of the east coast of Sumatra, may be identical to the type of Cryptocoryne scurrilis. Cryptocoryne bangkaensis differs from Cryptocoryne scurrilis by the limb of the spathe having a regular, more or less pronounced rough inner surface without protuberances, these are only found at the margins of the limb, and by the shorter styles.
In 1956 the late Dutch botanist Willem Meijer collected several Cryptocoryne in Sumatra (Indonesia). One of his collections (Meijer 4313, deposed at the Nationaal Herbarium in Leiden) was collected on the eastern side of the Barisan Mountains (Riau province) in one of the tributaries of the Indragiri River. De Wit concluded that Meijer’s plant was a new species.
At about the same time the late Alfred Blass, a well-known aquarium plant grower and wholesaler from Germany, had a flowering Cryptocoryne that was imported from Sumatra (Möhlmann, 1993). Blass sent the preserved spathe to de Wit, and he also sent live plants that later flowered several times in the greenhouses of the Wageningen agricultural university. In 1962 de Wit described Cryptocoryne scurrilis based on Meijer’s plant as the type, and he also regarded Blass’ plant as belonging to Cryptocoryne scurrilis. In the drawings on the plate accompanying the protologue both Meijer’s plant and Blass’ plant were shown, as they were regarded as identical.
Blass’ plant was not a great success in cultivation. De Wit (1962) stated that is was very difficult for him to keep the plant alive for more than a couple of years. Though new plants were imported, very few results were published on its cultivation (Bastmeijer, 1989; Möhlmann, 1993; Roe, 1967).
In 1970 Joachim Schulze collected plants in southern Sumatra (Schulze 665 & 666, southwest of Palembang) and they were also identified as Cryptocoryne scurrilis.
Shortly after 2000, Alfred Waser from Switzerland (2001) and Yuji Sasaki from Japan (2001 & 2002) found Cryptocoryne scurrilis on several localities on the islands of Bangka and Belitung off the south east coast of Sumatra. In the meantime, cultivation skills had improved, so there were a lot of results in flowering Cryptocoryne scurrilis, showing the variation in this species.
For the description of Cryptocoryne scurrilis, the artist of the Wageningen herbarium Ike Zewald made very accurate drawings based on both the Meijer as well as the Blass material (de Wit 1962, 1990).
It has turned out that none of the cultivated plants matched figure 3 in the plate which shows an inner side of the limb densely covered with irregular protuberances (outgrowths). All cultivated plants show a regular more or less pronounced rough inner side of the limb of the spathe with only protuberances on the margin of the limb, which matches figure 4 & 5.
An investigation in the Wageningen herbarium (WAG) revealed that figure 3 was made after the Meijer plant 4313 of which Ike Zewald made a note on the original drawing that she manually opened the limb of the spathe (fig 2 in the drawing). Unfortunately only the spathes of the original Blass specimen (matching figure 4 & 5) and those cultivated by de Wit were found in the alcohol collection in Wageningen. Not the spathe of the Meijer 4313 plant. So the last chance to prove the identity of the Meijer plant was to look if there was another spathe in the dried Meijer 4313 plants in the Leiden herbarium (L). Fortunately out of all the plants (10+) there was one immature spathe of about 2 cm in length. To make it short, after some processing the spathe was opened and photographed. It was just like the figure 3!
As the structure of the limb is a major character for identifying Cryptocoryne, the consequence is that de Wit’s assumption that Meijer’s and Blass’ plants were identical is not correct, and because of his choice of the type, Meijer 4313, we still have a Cryptocoryne scurrilis but the well known plants from the Bangka and Belitung islands represent a new species.
Cryptocoryne bangkaensis Bastmeijer, Aqua-Planta 32(2): 41, 44-55 (2007)
Differt ab Cryptocoryne scurrilis De Wit per limbo spathae possum ordinaria, magis vel minor denuntio irregulariae intra superficies foras protuberancae, quorum solus reperiatae apud margina limbae.
Differs from Cryptocoryne scurrilis De Wit by the limb of the spathe having a regular, more or less pronounced rough inner surface without protuberances, these are only found at the margin of the limb.
Indonesia, Bangka, road from Pudingbesar to Sangku, ca 1-2 km before Labu in a black water stream, 9 March 2005, Bastmeijer 857 (L).
Rhizome creeping. Leaves 15-30 cm long, blade ovate to narrowly cordate, blade 4-10 cm long, 2-5 cm broad, sometimes somewhat bullate, upper surface dark green to brownish, lower surface mostly purple. Petiole 11-20 cm long. Peduncle short.
Spathe 5-8 (-12) cm long, limb 2-3.5 cm long, often shining, inner surface rough and finely spotted so the surface looks evenly coloured from a distance, yellowish to orange to purplish to dark brown, lanceolate to narrowly ovate, pointed, recurved, mostly with the margins somewhat raised and inward bent above central part (but also with the limb flat and completely recurved), with more or less pronounced protuberances along the margins; throat inside more or less dark purple to reddish (spotted), with a relatively thick, often yellowish, narrow collar, raised above the surface; tube inside more or less evenly purple (sometimes whitish in the middle part), kettle inside also more or less purple.
Female flowers 5-6, the styles bent outwards with ovate to elliptic stigmas; male flowers 30-50, olfactory bodies rounded, yellow.
Syncarp broadly ovate, dark brownish, smooth, seeds furrowed, brownish, endosperm present, embryo cone shaped, with two cilia-like prophylls. Chromosome number 2n = 68.
Indonesia: South Sumatra province (Schulze), Bangka (Sasaki and Waser), and Belitung (Sasaki).
Other specimens studied:
Sumatra. South Sumatra province: c. 60 km SW of Palembang, near Perabumulih, Schulze 665, 666 (WAG).
Lowland areas with secondary forest in slow running streams and small rivers with muddy or sandy bottom and with a water pH of 4.9-5.7 (Sasaki, 2003; Waser, unpubl.). Waser found it growing together with Cryptocoryne longicauda Engler at the type locality of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis on Bangka, and Sasaki (2003) also found both Cryptocoryne bangkaensis and Cryptocoryne longicauda growing in Sg. Jebus.
Regarding the real Cryptocoryne scurrilis, there are three collections from the island of Bintan also off the east coast of Sumatra which match the Meijer 4313 plant better: Jacobsen NJI 01-15 (C), Sasaki I-BISL (C), and Wongso SW BI-0303 (colour photos), all from the same stream north of Lome. They show the protuberances on the limb of the spathe and also have the long styles as seen in the type specimen of Cryptocoryne scurrilis. Recently, Japanese collectors found a Cryptocoryne in the Jambi province near Pijoan and Airhitam which also match Meijer 4313 rather well. It would be very nice to have Cryptocoryne scurrilis from the type locality in the Riau province recollected.
The Nationaal Herbarium branches Leiden (L) and Wageningen (WAG) in the Netherlands are acknowledged for their help in the archives and for the loan of the herbarium specimens. Also the herbarium in Copenhagen in Denmark (C) is acknowledged for the loan of herbarium specimens. We are grateful to Alfred Waser (Switserland) and Yuji Sasaki (Japan) for sharing their live collections from Bangka and Belitung with us. Johannes Kollmann translated the diagnosis into Latin.
Bastmeijer, J.D., 1989, Cryptocoryne scurrilis De Wit, Aqua-Planta 14: 3-5.
page 41 (cover): Limb of the spathe of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis.
page 45, top and bottom: Flowering plant of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis, cultivated by A. Blass, August 1959 (Blass s.n.).
page 46: Plate in De Wit (1962, 1990). 1-3, 6-11 Cryptocoryne scurrilis, 4-5 Cryptocoryne bangkaensis.
page 47, top: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Waser 2001-9) in the background, growing together with Cryptocoryne longicauda (Waser 2001-8) on the isle Bangka.
Photo: A. Waser.
bottom: Cryptocoryne scurrilis. Part of the herbarium specimen of Meijer 4313 with an immature, c. 2 cm long spathe.
page 48, top: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis from Bangka. Note the brown limb and the green leaves (Waser 2001-4).
Photo: A. Waser.
Bottom: A cultivated plant of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Sasaki I-BASJ1) from Bangka. Note the brownish leaves.
page 49, top: Length cut through the spathe of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Sasaki I-BESE). Note the constricted throat and collar. The colour of the tube inside may vary from almost white to deep red.
Photo: N. Jacobsen
bottom: Cultivated plant of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Sasaki I-BEKB) from Belitung. Note the mostly green leaves and some brown leaves.
page 50, top: Limb of the spathe of Cryptocoryne scurrilis from the Meijer 4313 herbarium specimen with distinct protuberances.
middle: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis. A rough limb of the spathe with protuberances on the margin of the limb (Sasaki I-BEKB).
bottom: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis. Spathe of the plant of A. Blass (Blass s.n., August 1959, alcohol collection WAG). The surface of the limb is a bit rough and there are a few protuberances on the margin of the limb.
page 51, top: Opened kettle of Cryptocoryne scurrilis (Meijer 4313). Note ther long styles.
middle: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis. Spathe of a plant from A. Blass showing a more rough surface but no protuberances (cultivated de Wit 3.8.1966a, alcohol collection WAG).
bottom: Cryptocoryne bangkaensis. A rather rough limb of the spathe with more or less regular bumps and clear protuberances on the margins (Bangka, Waser 2001-9).
page 52, 53
page 54, top: Limb of the spathe of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis from Belitung (Sasaki I-BEPP).
bottom: Opened kettle of the spathe of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Sasaki I-BEPP).
page 55, top: Limb of the spathe of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Waser 2001-9) from Bangka.
bottom: Opened kettle of the spathe of Cryptocoryne bangkaensis (Waser 2001-9). The colour of the kettlewall may vary from whitish with some red dots to fully dark red.