Killi Shrimp Plant species Enclycloaquaria CoF Invert Taxa

Aqua-Planta 30(4): 41, 150-157

A survey of the Cryptocoryne crispatula group in the Guangxi province, China

Zhou Hang

A collection trip to Guangxi province was made in late April 2005. The province is located at southern China and the south west is connected with Vietnam. And other neighbors are the Yunnan (west), Guizhou (north east), Hunan (north east) and Guangdong (east) provinces. One of its geographic characteristics is that the limestone coverage is approximately 40% of the entire area. There are many caves spread throughout the area with number of unique blind fish found underground in caves. Guangxi has a sub-tropical climate; the area is especially rich in water resources. Thus the province has a very rich freshwater fish resource; however the area is poorly studied.

My plan was to visit the two Cryptocoryne habitats found near Nanning city, the province capital. And then survey the border area between China and Vietnam. Besides plants, my aim was to sample the fish from this area. My friend, Wu Dong, discovered the two different Cryptocoryne near his city in 2004. I advised him to photograph the spathe of the plants, so he did in February. I was aware that a number of varieties in the C. crispatula group is found in North Vietnam, and only C. crispatula var. sinensis and var. balansae are recorded from China. However Wuís pictures were showing something more!

Upon arrival, Wu Dong picked me up from the train station in early morning and along the way, two other hobbyists also joined us. We first visited a small village called Na Mo, west of Nanning. We alight at the bridge over the big river, You Jiang (*Jiang = River). The You Jiang originates from Yunnan and joins with the Zuo Jiang at Nanning, the latter originates from Vietnam. After the joining it is named Yu Jiang and then would eventually join the famous Pearl River and flow towards Guangdong province and all the way into South China Sea. Na Mo is only slightly upstream of the joint; the water level was low when we arrived.

We walked along the river bank, and we stopped after a while. Wu told me this is the habitat, and I couldnít believe my eyes, as we were standing in the middle of nowhere under the strong sun and surrounded by the grass! After a closer look, I saw a very small batch of tiny Cryptocoryne near my foot! This habitat was totally different from the image I had in my mind. So much different from the habitats I encountered in South East Asia. The leaves were narrow and only a few cm in length, the spathe was around 10 cm as well! This Cryptocoryne was later identified as C. crispatula var. crispatula. During the sampling, I noticed the long roots of the plants. The surrounding grass may all die when the water level rises. Whether these plants also loose their leaves during high water like var. crispatula in Thailand, or if they have long leaves in the submerged state is not certain. In case of a temporary loss of leaves, their roots would remain underground and would grow new leaves again. Once again I eye witnessed the strength of this magnificent plant!

The second habitat we visited was nearby as well. We drove towards west and a few kilometers after entering Long An district, we stopped at a small stream which flows on top of the lime stone area. This time the plant was huge! The Cryptocoryne was growing together with Vallisneria sp. The timing of a visit was excellent, almost every plant was flowering! The Cryptocoryne was later identified as C. crispatula var. balansae. The biotope was very similar to the one of same species I visited in Chantaburi province of Thailand a few months ago. The stream was well exposed to the sunlight; and the population was very healthy. Numbers of fishes were spotted swimming among the dense growing plants including Rasbora steineri, Acanthorhodeus macropterus, Coreoperca whiteheadi and last but not the least Oryzias pectoralis, a Vietnamese species but appears to be a new record in China. No surprise to me though! Sampling of the plants was rather difficult and I found many shells of dead snails inside the mud. The longest spathe of submersed plant was measured more than 60 cm! We visited several habitats later to fish and that was the end of my stay in Nanning.

On the following day, I took a bus to the border city, Dongxing. Chinese tourists would pass by here when they visited the Ha Long Bay. My collection started early next morning, I hired a taxi and we moved west along the Beilun River, the water level was low and at one part I could walk across the river to Vietnam! Well, that would be considered an illegal crossing! Anyway, the area was still untouched. No sign of heavy industry and all I could see were the villages and the paddy fields. Guangxi province has number of minority tribes, I saw an old woman with stunning traditional clothes in the market of a small town. The people are around but most of them no longer wearing the expensive traditional clothes. Interestingly because their population is low, they are allowed to have second child 3 years after of the birth of first child. One child policy doesnít apply all time!

Soon I stopped in a stream alongside the road between Na Liang & Na Dong towns. It was flowing quietly in between the road and the houses. Then eventually would flow into the Beilun River. The small stream rich in aquatic plants; I spotted two species of Blyxa, green & red Rotala, Pistia stratiotes, and the introduced Cabomba. And most importantly in a shaded portion I found many batches of Cryptocoryne! And soon I realized that the Cryptocoryne were only growing in the fast flowing portion of the stream. The bottom was sandy with mixture of small stones so it was very easy and comfortable during sampling. The leaf was long but narrower compared to the one earlier in the day. Despite an effort, I could not spot any flower. I thought this could be a different species but I was never sure. It turned out to be C. crispatula var. flaccidifolia!

The entire trip was only five days, minus the transport I only sampled 3 days. And I managed to come back with this result! It simply shows how amazing the land is, and how poorly itís been studied. My friends and I will continue to survey the region and definitely more discoveries will be made in near future!

I thank Jan D. Bastmeijer and Niels Jacobsen for the discussions and comments on the article. Herbarium specimens are deposed at L, C, M, SING and KUN.

Legend to pictures.

small big

Page 150
Bank of the You Jiang at low water with emersed growing Cryptocoryne crispatula var. crispatula.

small med big

Page 151
Cryptocoryne crispatula var. crispatula, herbarium specimen Zhou 0504-1

small big
small big

Page 152
left. Emersed, flowering Cryptocoryne crispatula var. crispatula on the bank of the You Jiang; note the small leaves. right. Unusual opened limb of the spathe of Cryptocoryne crispatula var. crispatula.

small med big

Page 153
Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae, herbarium specimen Zhou 0504-2

small big

Page 154
left. Emersed, flowering plants of Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae. right. See page 155 left.

small med big
small big

Page 155
left (see also page 154). Cryptocoryne crispatula var. flaccidifolia, herbarium specimen Zhou 0504-3 right. Flowering plants of Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae at the natural habitat.

small big
small big

Page 156
top. An extreme long spathe of a submersed growing Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae. bottom. Partly emersed growing and flowering plants of Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae.

small big
small big

Page 157
top. A tributary of the Beilun river near Na Liang with Cryptocoryne crispatula var. flaccidifolia. bottom. Cryptocoryne crispatula var. flaccidifolia at the natural habitat near Na Liang; no plants were flowering.

Copyright 2024 Richard J. Sexton
Aquatic Aroids