Poaceae sp. "Purple Bamboo"

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Semi-emersed plant for open tanks, Background, Midground
Difficulty: medium
Growth: fast
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Availability [?]: 
  • rarely or not available commercially
  • rarely or not available from other aquarists

Habit, plant type:

  • stem
Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: unknown

Description: 

When Poaceae sp. "Purple Bamboo" was first imported it was erroneously supposed to be a species of the genus Polygonum, and e.g. in Singapore it is still in trade under the name "Polygonum sp. Type 2". However, it is not a knotweed (genus Polygonum or Persicaria), but one of the very few true grass species of the Poaceae family that have made it into the aquarium hobby. Its affiliation to that family can e.g. be seen in the parallel, not reticulate leaf venation.
This plant is cultivated in aquaria in Asia and the USA, however, it is still unknown in Europe, where it is also not available in trade.

As its vernacular name says, Poaceae sp. "Purple Bamboo" reminds of bamboo, which also belongs to the family of true grasses, the Poaceae. However, with the exception of dwarf species, bamboo grows much larger, and the stems lignify. Although it may be clear which family this plant belongs to, the species of this grass has not been identified yet, and not even its genus, as its approximante origins are unknown, and it has not been in flower yet in cultication. There are many true grass species distributed in all the world, which grow floating on the surface and submersed from time to time.

Poaceae sp. "Purple Bamboo" is a very interesting aquarium plant. Under good light, with CO2 injection and sufficient nutrients, it attains impressive, but not overly intensive purple and silvery hues, and it tends to form large oxygen bubbles on its surface. It is not a very demanding plant in any aspect and can also survive in so-called "low-tech" or even "no-tech" tanks. Under the above conditions, however, it looks its best.

Its strictly upright growth habit and its delicate appearance make this true grass an ideal plant especially for minimalistic aquascape layouts inspired by the Asian style. It is most often used in moderately large groups consisting of an uneven number of stems. It forms only very few lateral shoots if it remains untrimmed, which makes keeping a somewhat stiff look easier. An often-overlooked use of this plant is for paludaria. Even though it is perfectly adapted to submersed cultivation, it does even better when kept emersed, and it easily grows above the waterline. This characteristic can be utilised to a great effect when Poaceae sp. "Purple Bamboo" is planted around driftwood in shallow water, or if it is kept in the background of open tanks where it is allowed to grow above the waterline. The emersed form has to be trimmed regularly, as its stems can grow to over a metre if they are not cut back.

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