by Robert Paul Hudson
I recently obtained some Ranunculus inundatus, one of my favorite foreground plants, from a hobbyist online. This unique looking creeping stem plant is native to Australia, and cultivated in plant farms in Asia. Although it has been available through Asia for several years now, it has not been found in the mainstream market of either the USA or Europe.
I first saw this plant when I imported a number of different plants direct from Oriental Aquarium of Singapore back in 2008. Not all of the plant survived the ordeal of shipping across the world and waiting to clear customs, but enough of it survived that I could sell it to a few people, including someone local to me who has been successful in growing it ever since and has shared it with several people online.
The bunch I got recently to my surprise was grown emersed by the hobbyist. When grown above water, the main stems send out leaf stems growing quite tall, with a single leaf on top: like a tall umbrella or mushroom!
This is not the look I wanted in using this plant. I left the entire bunch of stems just floating in the aquarium until I figured out what to do with it. About a week later I noticed all the floating stems had thick clusters of new leaf growth growing at the base of the tall leaf stems! This is what I wanted! Low growing leaves on horizontal stems laying across the substrate, so I then planted the whole thing.
The underwater growth of this plant has stems with rows of leaves or “nodes”. Each leaf node has roots growing from it, which is why the stems may be laid across the substrate. The stem that supports each leaf from the horizontal stem is very short. Above water, each of those leaf stems, (petiole) can be 6 to 10 inches tall.
This is exactly how most Hydrocotyle species, (Pennywort) grow as well. When ever I would buy Pennywort commercially, it would have very long stems with a single leaf on top. Only the base of that leaf stem with a horizontal stem attached would grow more leaves.
This stem with leaf nodes may be cut at any point where the node has roots to be propogated or re-arranged to form tighter groupings of the plant.
In this photo you can see clearly the stem of each leaf growing upward from the horizontal stem and and roots starting at each node.
Whether you have the notes widely spaced or grouped closely together, the unique shape of the leaves will add a very distinctive look to your foreground.