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Pogostemon stellatus or Limnophila aromatica


15 Feb 2009
I bought the plant as Pogostemon stellatus - it has quite a narrow leaf with serations along its length. The new growth that's nearing the top of the tank has a pinkish tint to it and the leaves at the top of the plant when I purchased it did have a pinkish hue. That seems to have gone now and the leaves are mostly green (except for the newest, and they are right near the surface).

I've been searching around to find out how to prune it - since putting it in the tank a couple of weeks ago, it's grown to almost reach the surface. The thing is - looking at pics, it also looks quite like Limnophila aromatica.

Do the serations along the length of the leaves help to ID which one it is?

Whichever one it turns out to be - might someone be able to tell me how to prune it?

I'm really loathe to take off the tops - the lower areas of the stems aren't nearly as 'bushy' as the new growth. Although, there are lots of new stems appearing at the bottom of one of the plants.

I really love this new additon to the tank, so don't want to mess it up.

Any advice would be great.

Many thanks,
got a photo?
i have both in my tank, not pruned the stellatus yet tho, guessing its the same as the limno.
just cut it off where you require and replant the tops the bases will also send out more shoots
Excellent - thank BVB.

I'll get a photo tomorrow or Monday and post it - it would be good to know which it is. It's only been in a fortnight, but its grown loads.

Whichever it is, it's a lovely plant - really pleased with it.

Thanks again.

There are a few genotypes (inheritable characteristics) of each plant, so that their phenotypes (observable characteristics) often are similar causing confusing. It's probably best to identify them in their emmersed form and to identify where they were purchased from because submersion introduces all kinds of variables which affect phenotype. Variation in dosing, CO2 and lighting (probably spectra as well as intensity) can cause one to look like the other.

The existence of serrated leaf edges and pigmented abaxial surfaces are not always enough to determine identity.

This L. aromatica sample is a cutting descended from a specimen purchased from Thai vendor e-aquaplant. They seemed to have disappeared from the web. It's not clear whether the specimen originated in Thailand. You can see that there are serrated edges. On this specimen one can see the waffled adaxial surface.

This P. stelleta sample is a cutting descended from a Tropica specimen. Under unlimited nutrient conditions the genotypes of these two species should become obvious. On this specimen the adaxial surface is smooth and the leaf major vein is obvious as a light line bisecting the leaf. Given the chance this species of P. stelleta will grow to enormous sizes, much larger than the L. aromatica pictured above.

More about these plants in the thread Limnophila aromatica - The Rice Paddy Herb

baron von bubba said:
just cut it off where you require and replant the tops

I'd of done it the other way around.

I had eustralis stellata in one tank and was nervous about trimming it. there's much debate on methods of trimming and not all believe in trimming and leaving the base.

when my variety reached the surface i cut it down (nervously, as I'd never had this one) and waited to to see what happeden. unlike other stems there are several nodes?....leaves where new growth will sprout. in a week or so (slower than most stems) low and behold it grew back with about 5 new shoots. nice, new growth.

replanting the tops just gives you the same densities as before right?....and the head is/ will end up huge. you'll disturb substrate, etc etc.

i've said it before, but it appears to me, that most stems can rise from the dead almost after trimming.
Thanks all for the advice and information. Apologies for not responding sooner - work is just nightmarish at the moment. I only escaped from working the weekend because it's my birthday tomorrow and I'd already made arrangements. Have to be away again for most of next week - so very little time to lavish on my tank.

I haven't pruned the plant at all as yet - I can't bring myself to do it, it looks so lovely. I'm planning on doing a 50% water change tomorrow morning and will get photo's later on Sunday - when the water has cleared. Although the plant is now at surface level - it hasn't broken the surface, it's just bending in the water. It's filling out at the bottom, sending up new stems. I love it - it's so beautiful.

Clive - thanks for all the info. This weekend is going to be a busy one and then I have to go away. However, I'll be coming back home on Thursday and I'm claiming Friday as mine all mine - I'll be using some of it to learn about my lovely new plant!

Lovely photos by the way :clap:
Clive - I really enjoyed reading the piece you wrote about Limnophila Aromatica - a great article.

Right - I finally managed to get some pictures. I still don't know which plant it is and I can't put off pruning for much longer. It still seems to be doing well - although not nearly as well as those pictures in Clive's article. Still - gives me something to strive for!

The serrations aren't as pronounced as they were - or I'm just getting used to looking at it. It's also lost the slight purple tinge it had - maybe dosing / lighting?

Here are the pics anyway. I've yet to master the art of tank photography - so please forgive the quality. Also - I do know that a couple of my pearl danios are bent - I've got them when I got my first tank, so they're at least 5 and a bit decrepit!



Hi Caroline,
Glad you like the article. :geek: I reckon that's a stelleta. It seems the mid-veins are prominent in that last photo, which, all things being equal, normally doesn't show up in the aromatica. The high aspect ratio of the leaves (length/width) also seems more stelletal-like.
Stelleta also grows a lot of annoying aerial roots, much more so than aromatica, so if you startseeing that it's a sure giveaway.

Sometimes these rot when you cut them so might be a good idea to float the cuttings for a few days before planting them.

Thanks for the ID, Clive :D

I'll take off the tops then.

Sorry about the amount of questions I'm about to ask :oops:

Can I leave the established part of the plant where it is? (It's throwing up all sorts of stems that are making the plant quite bushy at the bottom, so I'd like to encourage that if I can)
If I do, will I get re-growth from where I cut? (I was hoping that it might bush out a bit)
Do I need to be careful where I cut?
The leaves at the top of the plant are really dense and lovely. Is this because it's getting more light at the top of the tank?

I like this plant a lot, so I don't want to mess it up with hamfisted pruning.
i'm not sure if you read this...

saintly said:
when my variety reached the surface i cut it down (nervously, as I'd never had this one) and waited to to see what happeden. unlike other stems there are several nodes?....leaves where new growth will sprout. in a week or so (slower than most stems) low and behold it grew back with about 5 new shoots. nice, new growth.
Obviously I didn't read it well enough, Saintly!

Where do I cut? Just above existing leaves? Between sets of leaves on the stem?

IME with this variety, the closer to the top, the smaller the gap between nodes. this gets bigger going towards the bottom. you have new shoots coming from lower down right? cut just above the new growth, or if you have stems without new growth just cut above the node. you don't have to be too fussy, it will recover in time.

as an experiment i butchered mine to about 2 inches, and it still grew back. (you don't have to do this of course)

try to make sure the cuts are even levels. another thing which will happen is, the odd stem which has new growth already will catapult ahead of the others, so let it grow as before and then trim that at later date. or trim it off it looks like it's standing out. in time, repeating the process will result in a bushier looking plant with many crowns.
i dont have the best images to show what i mean, but these may show something.

the first image, at the rear shows no stellata,


then in the second you can just see the new stellata leaves growing....


it took about 2 weeks for this.
Brilliant - thanks, Saintly.

My tank looks like a wasteland compared to that - it looks beautiful.

Yep, there's loads of new shoots coming up from the bottom and one of the stems has bolted way ahead of the others.

I'll get pruning later :D