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Cryptocoryne noritoi (Araceae), a new species from East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Cryptocoryne noritoi (Araceae)

A new species from East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Suwidji Wongso (Indonesia) and Jan D. Bastmeijer (the Netherlands)


A new species of Cryptocoryne, C. noritoi Wongso, from East Kalimantan (Indonesia) is described and illustrated. It differs from C. moehlmannii De Wit from Sumatra by the broader and more open limb of the spathe with a rough inner surface. It also lacks a distinct collar and has a chromosome number of 2n = 34 (C. moehlmannii has 2n = 30).


In the past few years the knowledge of Cryptocoryne from Borneo has increased a great deal, thanks to the interest of Indonesian, Japanese and European hobbyists and a network of local people, scientists and collectors. This article describes the first record of a Cryptocoryne from the northern part of the East Kalimantan Province of Indonesia.


Cryptocoryne noritoi Wongso. Aqua Planta 30: 92-100 (2005).
Differt a Cryptocoryne moehlmannii lamina spathae intus cremea vel straminea protuberationibus parvis aurantiaco-brunneis obsita; collo deficiente; numero chromosomatum 2n = 34. In contrario lamina spathae in C. moehlmannii intense purpurea vel lutea laevis collo distincto instructa; numerus chromosomatum 2n = 30. Holotype: Indonesia, East Kalimantan, Berau district, South West of Tanjung Redeb, 19 May 2004, Takahashi NT 0401, (BO, isotypes L, C, M, K, WAN, SING).

Rhizome 4-5 (-6) mm in diameter, stolons 11-14 cm long and ca. 2-3 mm in diameter. Leaves in a rosette; leaf 15-25 (-28) cm long; petiole 10-17 (-20) cm, ca 3 mm in diameter, sheathed for the lower quarter, green and brownish in the lower part; blade cordate, 6-8 (-8.5) cm long and 3.5-4.5 (-4.8) cm wide, base cordate and apex acute, glossy dark green on the upper side and paler green on the lower side, smooth with furrows along the veins, 2 - 4 lateral veins on each side, margin plain to undulated. Cataphylls 3-5 (-7) cm long, purplish brownish above the soil. Peduncle 1-5 (-10) cm long, ca. 0.2 cm in diameter, white to green. Spathe 3-4 cm long; kettle ellipsoid to ovoid, 1 cm long and 0.4 cm in diameter, more or less constricted in the upper part, inside whitish with a few small dots in the upper part, flap crème to whitish, also with a few dots; tube absent to 0.5 cm, bent at anthesis in an angle of 45 to 90 degrees, outside dark purple brown, inside crème; limb 1.5-2 cm long, and ca. 0.5 cm broad for most of its length, opening over the full length and up to a half turn forward twisted, with two, more or less pronounced longitudinal folds, outside dark purple-brown, inside crème to yellowish colored with small orange-brown protuberances, no collar present. Spadix ca. 1 cm long; female flowers 4-5 (6?), green, style prominent, stigmas small, more or less elliptical, white; olfactory bodies globular with a sunken centre (sometimes irregular globular), yellow; naked part of the spadix ca 0.5 cm; male flowers 20-30, yellow; appendix ovoid, white. Only immature fruits of ca. 4 mm in diameter (ovoid) with a short peduncle (1-2 cm) are known from the type material. Pollen fertility > 90%. Chromosome number 2n = 34.


As far as we know today, C. noritoi is a narrow endemic. It is found in three localities very close to each other in springs and spring fed streams in a limestone area. The habitat would not be endangered as long as the springs as source of drinking water for the local people are not disturbed and if commercial collectors of aquarium plants would try to propagate this plant instead of over collecting it.


This new species is named after its collector, Norito Takahashi (Japan), who is an amateur researcher on fish and wet land flora.


The eastern part of the Berau district in East Kalimantan is well known for its great limestone areas. The Sangkulirang-Mangkahilat peninsula is a world famous karst area with caves with prehistoric inscriptions and orangutans (Chazine & Fage, 2005). The biodiversity of the area is extremely high (Keβler 1997). However, this area is also prone to fire, and was damaged by the 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 fires that raged through East Kalimantan (FWI/GWI, 2001). The area is further threatened by illegal timber cutting and the potential for quarrying lime to produce cement (MacKinnon et al. 1996). Cryptocoryne noritoi grows on the edge of an area with eroded limestone with springs und subterranean rivers (Mantel 2001, private comm.). This species grows emersed and submersed on the banks of ponds and brooks from the various springs, together with big stands of Piptospatha sp.(Araceae). In some places grows Cryptocoryne noritoi together with Ceratopteris thalictroides (L.) Brongn., Blyxa sp. and Hygrophyla sp. The water is clear to slightly turbid. All of the localities have similar parameters for the water quality with pH = 8.1 - 8.4, EC = 450 - 540 μS/cm and KH = 12 - 13 dH, GH = 13 - 18 dH. The soil is a loam originating from eroded limestone.


The knowledge of Cryptocoryne has grown fast in the last century. Ridley (1905) listed 9 species from Borneo, Engler (1920) also enumerates 9 species, de Wit (1966) mentions 10 species (with corrections for interpretation) while Jacobsen (1985) lists 15 species. Including this new species there are now 20 species and varieties recognized from Borneo, 13 are from Kalimantan. The chromosomal base number x=17 (a diploid plant with 2n=34 and higher ploid plants like 2n=68) is rather common in Cryptocoryne. Of the 67 recorded species and varieties of Cryptocoryne recognized today, 29 have this base number. From Borneo, 7 have this base number (Bastmeijer 2005). There are, however, no apparent relationships between these species (Arends et al. 1982, Jacobsen 1985). At first glance, C. noritoi resembles C. moehlmannii from the west coast of Sumatra in its size, its even green leaves and its oblique limb of the spathe on a very short tube (de Wit 1990, Bastmeijer & Duyfjes 1997). The leaves are slightly different, C. noritoi has more pronounced furrows along the main veins and a more undulated margin. C. moehlmannii may have a purple glow on both the upper and lower side of the leaves while C. noritoi may show a brownish marmorated lower side. But as both species are known from very few localities, a wider variation may be found if they prove to have a larger distribution than known presently. The leaves also resemble those of C. pontederiifolia Schott and C. yujii Bastmeijer, but these species have a quite different spathe. The spathe of C. noritoi is distinct from that of C. moehlmannii with its small orange/brown protuberances on the limb and the lack of a collar. The limb of C. noritoi has also two, more or less pronounced folds in the length of the limb while C. moehlmannii has at most one fold. A typical feature of C. noritoi is the often long peduncle of its spathe as found in the type material. This is clearly an adaptation to a high water level as some immature fruits have a short peduncle, indicating that the water level must have been lower at flowering time. Many other species of Cryptocoryne have another strategy to overcome this having developed an elongated tube of the spathe.

Cryptocoryne noritoi grows in alkaline, hard water that originates from springs in a limestone area. Limestone areas are rather common in Borneo and a couple of Cryptocoryne in casu C. hudoroi Bogner & Jacobsen, C. striolata Engler, C. keei N. Jacobsen and C. ferruginea Engler are reported from these regions. But most other species grow in peat swamps where, even when overlaying limestone, the soil conditions are very acid (Korthaus, 1980). Cryptocoryne from limestone areas are also known from the Philippines (C. usteriana Engler), West Malayia (C. affinis N. E. Br. ex Hooker f.) and Thailand (C. crispatula Engler).


C. noritoi is easy to cultivate both in a calcium rich substrate (dolomite) and (amazingly) also in pure, acid Fagus soil and therefore seems to be a good candidate for an aquarium plant, for in our region the tap water is mostly hard . It can grow very robust and is easily propagated by stolons. Because of the plants are only shortly in cultivation, there is no long term experience.

We thank Mrs. Anne Marie Ramsdal for the chromosome count, Dr. Helmut Roessler for the translation of the Latin diagnosis and Mrs. Line K. Jacobsen for the drawing. We also acknowledge the discussions with Stephan Mantel, Niels Jacobsen and Josef Bogner.

Arends, J.C., J.D. Bastmeijer & N. Jacobsen, 1982. Chromosome numbers and taxonomy in Cryptocoryne (Araceae).II. - Nord. J. Bot. 2: 453-463.
Bastmeijer, J.D., 2005, The Crypts pages. -
Bastmeijer, J.D. & B.E.E. Duyfjes, 1997. Zwei Cryptocorynen aus dem Gunung-Leuser-Nationalpark (Sumatra, Indonesien), 2. Teil. Cryptocoryne moehlmannii De Wit. - Aqua-Planta 22(2): 41, 43-50.
Chazine, J.M. & L.-H. Fage, 2005. Les premières grottes ornées de Bornéo. - http://www.kalimanthrope.com/borneo.html
Engler, A., 1920. Das Pflanzenreich IV.23.F. Araceae - Aroideae: 232-249, - W. Engelmann, Leipzig.
FWI/GWI, 2001. Potret Keadaan Hutan Indonesia. Forest Watch Indonesia and Global Forest Watch. Bogor. Indonesia. - http://www.globalforestwatch.org
Jacobsen, N., 1985. The Cryptocoryne (Araceae) of Borneo. - Nord. J. Bot. 5: 31-50.
Keβler, P.J.A., 1997. The Berau area, a case of extremely high botanical diversity in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. - Flora Malesiana Bulletin, 12(1): 11-12.
Korthaus, E., 1980. Beobachtungen an Cryptocorynen auf Borneo. - Das Aquarium 133: 342-343.
Mantel, S., 2001. Berau Model Forest Area Environmental Datasets and Maps. - http://www.dephut.go.id/INFORMASI/PH/BFMP/prd17.pdf
MacKinnon, K., G. Hatta, H. Halim & A. Mangalik, 1996. The Ecology of Kalimantan. - Periplus Edition, Singapore.
Ridley, H.N., 1905. The Aroids of Borneo. - J. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. 44: 169-171.
Wit, H.C.D. de, 1966. Aquariumplanten, 3e druk. - Hollandia, Baarn.
Wit, H.C.D. de, 1990: Aquarienpflanzen. 2. Auflage. - Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Wongso, S. & J.D. Bastmeijer, 2005. Cryptocoryne noritoi Wongso (Araceae), eine neue Art aus Ost-Kalimantan (Indonesien). – Aqua-Planta 30: 92-100.

Illustrations in Aqua-Planta 30: 92-100

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Page 92. Biotope of Cryptocoryne noritoi. This pond is fed by a spring. Photo: N. Takahashi

Page 93 top. Spring with a small steam running off. Page 93 bottom. In this stream running from the spring (fig. 3) big stands of Cryptocoryne noritoi are found

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Page 94 left. Partly submersed plants have their spathe on a relative long peduncle. Page 94 right. Cryptocoryne noritoi with a more orange limb of the spathe. It is also more twisted and less bend. The length folds on the limb are less prominent. Photos: N. Takahashi

Page 95 top. Longitudinal section of the spathe of Cryptocoryne noritoi showing the transition of tube and the limb. There is no collar present. Page 95 bottom. Longitudinal section of the kettle of Cryptocoryne noritoi with the female flowers at the base and the male flowers at the top. Photos: J.D. Bastmeijer

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Page 96. Spathe of Cryptocoryne moehlmannii (longitudinal section) with a prominent collar. Photo: J.D. Bastmeijer

Page 97. Drawing of Cryptocoryne noritoi after the type N. Takahashi NT 0401

  1. Full plant with spathe and immature fruit, 0.5 x
  2. Spathes in different views, 1.5 x
  3. Detail of the limb with protuberances, 12 x
  4. Longitudinal section of the kettle with the spadix with female flowers (bottom) and male flowers (top) partly behind the valve, 3.5 x
  5. Female flowers with a the lower part of the spadix, 7 x
    Line drawing: K. Jacobsen

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Page 98 top. Top view on the limb of the spathe of Cryptocoryne noritoi. Note the two length folds in the limb and the fine protuberances. Page 98 bottom. View from the backside of the limb showing the two prominent folds. Photos: J.D. Bastmeijer

Page 99 top. Typical spathe of a cultivated Cryptocoryne noritoi. Page 99 bottom. Cultivated plant of Cryptocoryne moehlmannii. This plant originates from the type collection made by Jähn in Central Sumatra. Photos: J.D. Bastmeijer


Page 100. Two cultivated plants of Cryptocoryne noritoi. Note the brown marmorating on the lower side of the leaves. Photo: J.D. Bastmeijer

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