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Heteranthera zosterifolia (Indian Stargrass)


  1. RE: Native(?) plant ID
    by Cynthia S Powers <cyn/> (Sat, 07 Aug 1999)
  2. Stargrass Suffering Under Zoo Meds
    by Biplane10/ (Wed, 11 Oct 2000)
  3. Stargrass
    by "Roxanne Bittman" <rbittman/> (Wed, 30 Jan 2002)
  4. Amano's style)
    by Lazarus Miskowski <lazmiskowski/> (Fri, 18 May 2001)

Heteranthera zosterifolia
(right, along with Saururus cernuus, left)
photo by Erik Olson

RE: Native(?) plant ID

by Cynthia S Powers <cyn/>
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 1999

Posts to the APD must be sent to

At 04:02 PM 08/07/1999 -0500, you wrote:
>>The plant was growing exclusively in shallow, unshaded, fairly still
>>water, mostly over rocky bottoms. Perhaps in less murky water it would
>>grow deeper and/or in muddy bottoms.  I never saw it growing up on the
>>At first glance the plant reminded me very much of Heteranthera
>>zosterifolia.  It was a light green stem plant with 2-3 inch long with
>>gradually tapering leaves usually less than 5 mm wide.  The leaves were
>>alternate-opposed, or possibly in pairs (memory fails me), I seem to
>>remember that the leaves had sheaths at their base - the base of the
>>leaf wrapped around the stem.  There was no petiole.
>>The plants grew to the water surface, but did not stand out of the
>>It put up a single bright-yellow flower on a thin stem.  The flower
>>a couple inches out of the water and was about a centimeter across.  I
>>remember 3 or 4 round petals and a I think I saw a lot of short,
>>cream-colored stamens clustered around the center of the flower.
>Sounds like water star grass, Heteranthera dubia.  The flower, size, habitat
>and leaf arrangement agree with your description.  I've often wondered why
>it isn't a popular aquarium plant, even though one of my references
>recommends it as "an attractive and hardy aquarium plant".  Some pondkeepers
>seem to favor it, and it is cultivated in our city's Botanical Garden pond.

Stargrass Suffering Under Zoo Meds

by Biplane10/
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000

Cavan found problems with growing stargrass under new light bulbs:

I found stargrass grew better in my tank while completed shaded under a large 
sword plant. When I tried growing it directly under the light, it kept 
turning black and looking rotted. I got tired of the plant, and hid it 
underneath the sword and forgot about it. After a while, I noticed it 
creeping along the gravel growing great, looking better than it ever had. 
Note that it was completely shaded. 

I then took the plants, which were a good size, and moved it to a different 
position in the tank, well lit. Again, I started having trouble with 
blackening and rotting leaves. At this point, I've removed all of it from 
that tank. I'll try it elsewhere.



by "Roxanne Bittman" <rbittman/>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002

I really like this plant; it certainly is a "weed" in the sense that it takes little attention to grow it and it can take over the entire tank in a hurry, if left untrimmed.  I like to use it two ways:  One way is to grow it up into a corner; you can make it grow "up" by trimming off the side shoots and leaving the taller branches.  It makes a nice wall when supported by the two sides of the corner.  It's proabably too weak-stemmed to do this away from the wall.  Secondly, I like to grow little bushes of it behind wood, etc.  This requires lots of trimming each week or two, but I enjoy trimming.  If you don't like maintenance, i.e. trimming plants, don't mess with the Heteranthera!
Roxanne Bittman

Amano's style)

by Lazarus Miskowski <lazmiskowski/>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001

>>I'm almost inspired enough by these images to go
another few rounds with the Stargrass in spite of it's
tendency toward black tips.<<

Stargrass is a funny plant.  I will share some
personal observations, and ideas that I have found on
the web.

1. Tends to do poorly (temporarily) if light levels
are suddenly increased.  Burns out, then comes back.

2.  Grows much more compactly under high light.  At
lower light levels, the leaves don't create the
origami effect that I like.

3.  Does poorly with swordtails.  Or at least my
swordtail.  After adding a large female, the stargrass
became very ratty looking.  Torn leaves, small leaves.
 I couldn't figure it out.  Then I noticed my
swordtail muching on what appeared to be new buds. 
Removed swordtail a few weeks later, and now I am
observing a return of normal growth.

4.  Black edges indicates some sort of nutrient
problem, and not really a trait of the plant.  I can
recall having some black edges in the past, but none
for a long time now.

5.  I have two larger tanks (75gal and 55gal).  In my
75gal, the stargrass often shows striations
(green-white-green-white) that look to be signs of
nutrient deficiency.  In fact, I use it as a measure
of my micronutrient levels.  However, in my 55gal
which I fertlilize very sparingly, I have never seen
this.  Possible explanations (I use CF and co2 tank in
75, NO and yeast in 55gal; 55gal has laterite, 75gal
has only gravel).  So maybe at higher light levels it
competes more poorly for micronutrients.  Or maybe the
laterite is adding extra iron.

Stargrass is a great plant.  I would love to do a
sculpted stargrass layout.


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