of the month
photograph by the author
Ludwigia inclinata GÓMEZ 1894
Native Distribution: Central and
Aquarium Placement: Midground
Requirements: Mid to high light,
ample nutrients, CO2 injection for
Description: Ludwigia inclinata is an aquatic herb found in
wet areas, sometimes on the beds of dried ponds or lakes, either
submerged or with emergent stems. Submerged leaves have an ovate
to ellipsoid shape on erect or trailing stems and are orange to red in
color. Branching can be profuse or sparse, but typically it will branch
profusely as a stem trails the surface.
This is a highly variable species, with the L. inclinata “verticillata”
variants being the most popular in the aquarium hobby. L. inclinata
“verticillata” var. “Cuba” is a large, showy stem that grows more erect than
L. inclinata, and with very different submerged growth characteristics.
Its leaves are long, narrow, and very colorful—transitioning from green
at the base to orange/yellow with deep red on the crown. “Cuba” is very
vigorous and, if its needs are met, will grow large quite fast. It is useful
as a background stem plant in aquarium layouts; routine trimming
and planting of the cut tops will yield a dense and colorful contrast to
smaller green plants in the midground and foreground areas.
L. inclinata “verticillata” var. “Pantanal” is another variety that is
similar in growth appearance to “Cuba” but with narrower and thinner
leaves. The coloration on “Pantanal” is its biggest appeal, with deep-pink leaves that become a reddish color on the crowns. “Pantanal” is
a smaller and less vigorous variety than “Cuba” and is more sensitive
to changes in water parameters, but rewards the aquarist with a very
attractive display in a grouping of healthy stems. It is useful as a
midground to background stem plant in an aquarium layout.
L. inclinata “verticillata” var. “Araguaia” is similar to “Pantanal” in size
and needs, but has coloration more similar to “Cuba,” with yellowish
lower leaves to orange and red crowns. It is less often found in the
aquarium hobby, but its smaller size and attractive growth make it a good
choice as a background plant for a medium-sized aquarium.
Ludwigia inclinata “verticillata” var. “Cuba.”
The emergent growth of L. inclinata and its variants are all very
similar: Stems that break the surface will form thicker, green, and
more ovate leaves, sometimes with red veins or reddish margins.
Solitary flowers form on pedicels (a stem that holds the flower)
up to 3 inches long, originating from the nodes, and having four
Use in Aquascaping: Requirements are also similar for all
varieties—bright lighting and soft water is preferred, and ample
macro- and micro-nutrients are needed for the best health and
coloration. In a dense grouping of stems, it is important to maintain
good water flow through the plant beds to prevent loss of leaves or
melting of the bases. As with many aquarium plants, L. inclinata
will benefit greatly from the addition of CO2 to the aquarium, which
is highly recommended to bring out the plant’s best appearance.
Emergent growth is less demanding, and the stems will usually
begin to branch profusely at the water surface, making propagation
more rapid. The emergent growth is also convenient for shipping,
especially for the more delicate varieties, since it is more likely to
survive even a long trip as long as it is kept moist.
Propagation: Propagation for all varieties is essentially the same;
just cut off the top of the stem and plant it. Side shoots will appear
on the base that remains and will create a dense grouping of attractive
stems. Emergent stems convert easily to submerged growth—allow
them to float or place them in the substrate of a well-lit aquarium
and wait for side shoots of submerged growth to appear. Once they
are 3 to 4 inches long, snip them off and plant them in the substrate.
You can then toss the original emergent stem if it starts to deteriorate,
but many times L. inclinata will survive the conversion to submerged
growth and only lose the emergent leaves.