by Robert Paul Hudson
This plant is part of a confusing name game. For years “Rotala indica” has been a name associated with a very common aquarium plant otherwise known as Rotala rotundifolia. A couple of years ago the name Rotala indica was given as the proper name to a plant first known as Ammannia bonsai. In the trade and still in many books, R. rotundifolia is still referred to as R. indica. On the internet some hobbyists refer to the proper R. indica as the “true Rotala indica”. For the purpose of this article I will simply refer to it as Rotala indica.
Rotala indica is still rather rare in the USA and is only occasionally imported. The specie is native to Africa and is characterized by stiff stems with very small roundish leaves. The plant looks very erect, growing straight up. The leaves are mostly green with a hint of red. Growth rate is slow and the plant is very light demanding.
I first came across this plant back in 04 or 05 when it was still known as Ammania bonsai, and I was in the business of selling plants on the internet. The plant was offered to me by an importer on the east coast. At the time I was not that impressed with the plant. It seemed rather unattractive to me, and difficult to maintain because of its light requirements. At the time I was more interested in plants that adapted and grew quickly so I could move them in and out of stock. A couple years later there seemed to be more interest in the plant from collectors. Now that I am a hobbyist rather than a retailer, I am looking at the plant with more interest.
People use this plant in tight groups as a semi foreground to middle ground plant, which makes sense because of how small the leaves are. Height wise the stems may grow pretty tall, but can be pruned to maintain any desired height.
I recently received several stems from plantedtank.net member Craigthor, and I am looking forward to growing them in my aquarium.