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Unstable variegated Tonina fluvatilis, my failed attempt at making a new cultivar.

So this plant here is a marbled/non-patterned sectorial chimera of a white mutation and normal Tonina fluviatilis that is not stable.

A chimera is any organism that has two or more sets of genomes in it. In this case, normal green Tonina fluvuatilis as one and a white mutation as the other. Marbled/Non-patterned-sectorial is a word to describe how each of the genomes are spread with in the shoot tip (Shoot Apical Meristem) which makes the whole plant, it means you have a random mix of each. Not stable here means that eventually the green tissue divides faster than the white so the ratio of green to white goes towards green as the plant grows, eventually being all green and of course never reverting back.

No matter how many sideshoots I tried or in what conditions I grew it, I could not get it to show a stable pattern. So it’s a plant that wasn’t meant to be.

A word on the how-to: By sheer luck I found a streak of lighter colored tissue in a stem of Tonina.

I recognized that streak as a chlorophyll mutation and in an effort to get a sideshoot with more of that mutation I forced that stem to sprout from a node where the lateral bud intersects with the white streak. Eventually, the shoot above emerged as a sideshoot of a sideshoot.

While that it is of course sad it failed, I did gain a nugget of knowledge: The marbled cultivar “Tonina fluviatilis ‘Marble Queen’” is most likely not a chimera, because it is stable, unlike my chimera here.

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Hygrophila balsamica

One of my favorite plants simply because there’s no other finely textured plants that has 15 cm/6’’ diameter. Like other Hygrophila, it is very easy in care, but high light and CO2 helps getting finer and bigger leaves. A few sources say it is fairly fast growing, but in my case it grows moderately slow. Unlike the rather messy Hygrophila difformis, Hygrophila balsamica can be made in very neat terraced bushes and thus it makes and very interesting addition to the fore- and midground of larger aquascapes, in particular in dutch-style tanks. Only it’s emersed form produces the toxic sap, the sap can also be removed by water logging the emersed stems for three days prior to adding to the tank.

Whether it’s the fine texture or the thrill of having toxic plants in your aquarium makes you interested in it – if you can, give Hygrophila balsamica a try, it really is an underrated plants that could use some love.

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