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Hydrocotyle verticillata

Posted in Plant Profiles with tags , on October 3, 2008 by Bhushan Dalvi

Hydrocotyle verticillata

Hydrocotyle verticillata even tough a common marsh plant through out the southern states of North America is not as establish in the planted tank hobby as the other member of the genus Hydrocotyle leucocephala. This probably is attributed to the difficulty of growing this specie underwater. H.verticillata is commonly known as the Whorled Pennywort or Sheild Pennywort. Hydrocotyle verticillata can be found growing all year round throughout Texas wherever there is moist to wet soil. There are a few people I know who ordered this plant from online dealers later to find out this plant growing like weed in there own backyard. I have found large groups of this plant growing in quiet a few place around my house. Even though considered as a perennial plant this plant suffers quiet a bit in the Texan summer. I have found that during summer only group of plants in well shaded locations survive. H.verticillata can be found growing submersed in large groups in fast flowing water of San Marcos River all year around. The water temperature of this river stays around 72 °F all year.

H.verticillata growing on the bank of San Marcos River.

H. verticillata is considered a moderately difficult plant to grow submersed. It requires a lot of light supplemented with good carbon dioxide addition and regular fertilization. Lack of nitrogen will cause quick yellowing of the older leaves. It also likes soft and slightly acidic water. I have been growing this plant both emersed and submersed. H.verticillata is a fast growing weed when grown on land in sunlight as well as when grown emersed under lights. But its rate of growth significantly differs when grown underwater. It grows painstakingly slow. The stem of this plant grows along the substrate with 1-2 leaves growing upright at each node. The height of leaf stalk in an aquarium is decided by the amount of light. I had this plant growing under 65w of light in a 10 gallon aquarium. The maximum height to which it got was 1-1.5”. In low light tanks the leaf stalks try to reach out towards the light and hence can have long stalks. When I first started with this plant I planted it in two different tanks one with Aquasoil Amazonia II and one with just plain river sand. The few nodes which I planted in Amzonia II sent out new leaves within a couple of weeks of planting, but the ones in river plant took a lot longer than that. This makes me believe that it appreciates a nutritious substrate. This plant can also be grown as a floating plant. If grown as a floating plant it will appreciate a lot of nutrients in the water column. This plant has small white flowers growing in tight group on the tip of the stalk.

I haven’t seen H.verticillata been used by a lot of aquascapers in their aquascapes. This probably is due to the unique leaf shape which makes it difficult to incorporate in a scape. Mr. Takashi Amano has used this plant in quiet a few of his earlier scapes as a foreground plant. The most memorable use of this plant was in his scape called “Grace of Angles” from AquaJournal Vol.18 (December 1995). A picture of this scape pops in my mind every time I see this plant. H.verticillata’s unique leaf shape and easy availability prompted me to use it in “Boraras Dream”. It was placed in this scape on the extreme left corner to draw attention of the viewer to that corner while adding interest to that shaded section. In a small aquascaped tank H. verticillata can be used as accent plant to draw attention to its unusual leaf shape. In larger tanks it can be used as the main foreground plant. I belive a lot of aquascapers will appreciate the slow growth of this plant underwater. It does not get unruly like Glossostigma elatinoides or Echinodorus tenellus. If you can satisfy all its need H.verticillata can be a great addition to any aquascape.