Q. What kind of flower is this?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Fishkeeping Answers -

I have had a flower bloom from an aquatic plant in my tank, which is at­tached to half a co­conut shell. It’s beau­ti­ful — but what is it? I tried re­search­ing un­der­wa­ter flow­ers on Google but could not find a rel­e­vant pic­ture. I have had this plant for 18 months, and it did some­thing like this a year ago, but the flower was not as big. JOSHUA GRAVES, EMAIL

AThis is an Anu­bias species, al­most cer­tainly Anu­bias bar­teri, var. nana,a mem­ber of the Araceae group of plants, of­ten called the Arum lilies. The Peace lilies (Spathiphyl­lum spp.) of­ten kept as house­plants be­long to the same group. All of them have this very dis­tinc­tive sin­gle, scoop-shaped petal-like struc­ture called a spathe that looks like a petal but isn’t; the many tiny flow­ers are on the stick-like struc­ture on the in­side that is called a spadix. This group of plants is re­mark­able for in­clud­ing some of the largest flow­ers known, the spathe and spadix of the Ti­tan arum can mea­sure up to 3m in height! Get­ting back to your Anu­bias, one of the things to re­alise about this plant is that it is re­ally a marsh plant rather than a true aquatic, and this flower is meant to at­tract in­sects that will carry pollen from one flower to an­other. Un­der aquar­ium con­di­tions the flower even­tu­ally rots, but it still puts on a good show! Quite what trig­gers flow­er­ing is un­clear, pos­si­bly changes in day length or tem­per­a­ture, but re­ally, this does seem some­thing that hap­pens with some spec­i­mens but not with others. I’ve had Anu­bias that bloom once most years, while others did noth­ing.

Be­cause th­ese are marsh plants, op­ti­mal con­di­tions would prob­a­bly be a palu­dar­i­um­type set-up that al­lowed the plant to ex­tend above the wa­ter­line across wet rocks or bog­wood. But as I say, get­ting Anu­bias to flower on de­mand isn’t eas­ily done, and you might have to con­tent your­self with sim­ply en­joy­ing what is an oc­ca­sional, but in­ter­est­ing, oc­cur­rence. NEALE MONKS

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