by Robert Paul Hudson
Echinodorus vesuvius has been traded among hobbyists in America for a few years now, and sold commercially in Europe and Asia for a little longer, (which is how it managed to sneak into the USA)
Now it is being grown commercially in the USA by Florida Aquatic Nurseries. There has always been speculation about the origin of this plant and what its exact specie is. Vesuvius is the name of a mountain in Italy and it is doubtful this plant is native to that area! So where did the name Vesuvius come from and what is the real specie name of this plant?
Brandon McLane of Florida Aquatic Nurseries tells us the story. According to him the plant is a variant, a natural mutation of Echinodorus angustifolia, (one of the grass like species) accidently discovered by a production manager working for Oriental Aquarium in Singapore.
Oriental Aquarium decided to market the plant through a nursery in the Netherlands called Stoffels International, (which unknown to most people is owned by Oriental Aquarium) Stoffels markets plants all over Europe and Canada. Kelly Teo (Stoffels’ managing director) thought the plant reminded him of puffs of smoke coming from a volcano and decided to call the plant Vesuvius!
Between 2006 and 2009 Oriental Aquarium began stepping up distribution of the plant in Europe and Asia. Brandon was able to import some plants from Oriental Aquarium in 2009 and has beek working hard ever since to produce several times more plants from those he imported so that now they have a good continual supply to bring to the USA market for years to come.
He reports that submersed growth is actually must faster than emergent growth, (usually the opposite with other plants) and even the flowers stalks curl inward like the leaves!
It is a fascinating looking plant, and another example of a natural variation untouched by man. The mutation happened in a nusery facility and has not been discovered growing in any native habitat of angustifolia, but you never know! It grows to a maximum height of around 10 inches, grows easily in the aquarium under moderate or better light, and twists and curls like no other plant. If you put it side by side with a corkscrew val or contortion val you will see the Vesuvius is totally unique looking.