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Text by Roberto Pellegrini

I thank Mr. Giovanni Bubici a lot for his productive and important translation work, that has maintained the original content and descriptions of the italian version of this article

Pictures and technical-photographic revision by Massimo Iannella

Recently, thanks to Iannella Massimo, an hobbyist grower of rare aquatic plants, a new plant nearly similar to a bamboo has been introduced in the Italian aquarists’ tanks. This plant, whose scientific name and origin were initially unknown, was introduced from Asian regions with the name of ‘Mini Bamboo’. By a preliminary and accurate observation , it was found that the plant did not belong to the botanical family Poaceae (Graminaceae; including the bamboo), but it belonged to the Commelinaceae, a family which includes about 40 genera and 630 species. The family Commelinaceae includes ornamental plants widespread in the gardens (e.g. Tradescantia spp., which are known as 'Spiderworts') and plants with an economic value (e.g. Commelina communis var. hortensis, used in Japan to produce a blue natural dye).

Several Commelinaceae plants can be considered as hygrophilous, because in nature they grow in places humid and frequently subjected to floods: this plant group includes the genera Aneilema, Commelina, Cyanotis and Floscopa. Only the genus Murdannia includes typically aquatic species, which grow sometimes as weeds in the paddy field: Murdannia keisak is native of humid regions of China, Japan and Korea, and is spread as a weeds in paddy fields over many areas in the world, including Italy. Recently, while the correct name of this plant was studied, this Commelinaceae plant has spread in many aquariums, and has shown to be somewhat adaptable and easy to grow. Later, this plant was named Commelinacea sp. ‘Green Mini Bamboo’ by the aquarsits. It tends to emerge rapidly on the water surface and blossoms under favorable conditions: the first documented blossom occurred in the Massimo Iannella’s tank 4. The flower structure allowed to identify the genus and, probably, the species of this plant. In fact, it should be noted that the flowers are the only organs used to identify and classify a plant species for certain. Therefore, the Commelinacea ‘Green Mini Bamboo’ seems to belong to the genus Floscopa, and is very similar to Floscopa scandens Lour. Looking forward further studies and readings of monographs on the genus Floscopa, we suggest the name Floscopa cf. scandens. This species, which grows in swamps, humid forests and gorge near waters, is spread in Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Sikkim, Thailand, Vietnam and Oceania. This Commelinaceae plant is already grown as aquarium plant in the South-East Asia and Japan. Because of the few information available on this plant in web sites and Italian aquatic plant books, we report below its botanical simplified description, which is referred to samples observed in nature under emersion conditions.

Botanical Sheet

Family: Commelinaceae

Correct Name: Floscopa cf. scandens Lour

Erroneous Name: Commelinacea sp. ‘Green Mini Bamboo’

Perennial herbaceous plant, 20-70 cm in height, provided with fibrous roots. The stems are erect, but prostrate only at the base, simple and produce roots by the nodes. The leaves are usually sessile or born from a short petiole. They have an elliptical or lanceolate blade, 4-12 x 1-3 cm in size, with acuminate apex and round base. The panicle inflorescences are terminal or lateral, and provided with numerous long glandular hairs. The flowers are bisexual, zygomorphic, and possess three green and persistent sepals, 3.5 x 1.5 mm in size, and with abundant hairs. The petals are three, irregular, white, violet or bluish. Two of the three petals are lateral, equal and oblanceolate , 3.3 x 1.5 mm in size, while the median petal is oblong and smaller (3.3 x 0.7 mm). The stamina are six with yellow anthers. The fruit is a capsule, ovoid (2 x 2 mm), containing one gray-blue seed.


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Viggiani P., Tabacchi M., Angelini R. (2003) – Vegetazione spontanea di risaie e canali. Edizioni l'Informatore Agrario.

Yoshino S. (2005) - ?????728??? for Aquarium & Biotope (Piante acquatiche del mondo: enciclopedia illustrata di 728 specie per l' acquario e il laghetto). MPJ, Japan.

Flora of China (online version)

Flora of Taiwan (online version)