The World of Bucephalandra

Bucephalandra is a small plant species that has become quite the rage in the planted aquarium hobby in recent years. There are only three recognized species of Bucephalandra, B. gigantea, B. motleyana and B. catherineae, but there over a dozen distinguishable varieties, some of which may represent new and undescribed species. In this article, we will discuss the fundamentals of the species and show how they vary. Let us begin with the basics:

Proper pronunciation

Bucephalandra – buː-keɪf-ɑː-lɑːnd-rɑː / boo-kafe-a-LAND-ra


Common Name(s): Buce
Family: Araceae
Genus: Bucephalandra
Species: Various
Origins: Borneo
Difficulty: Easy
Lighting: Medium
Growth Rate: Slow
Placement: Foreground/Midground
Requirements: Temps 71f-78f, PH 6.5 to 7.0


Bucephalandra is a low-growing flowering aroid plant found exclusively on the island of Borneo. This plant is a rheophyte found growing as dense mats over stones in streams at locations subject to drastic change between flooding and prolonged dry periods which is comparable to that of Anubias barteri from Western Africa.  The plant relies on a strong root system to attach firmly upon smooth rocks which can only be loosened by knife.

New growth vary as a creeping or upright rhizome. The robust short-stalked leaves are obovate to lanceolate, with a smooth to undulate margin.

Bucephalandra sp. Brownie Ghost

Silvery dots are develop on the leaves when submersed. The inflorescence with a white to pale pink spathe develop on both emersed and submersed plants. Specimens found in nature are 2-7″ (5 to 20 cm) tall while submersed cultivated plants grow significantly smaller in general. The variety names often reflect the location where they are collected.

Bucephalandra sp. Melawi II

Bucephalandra  is a relatively undemanding plant that grows and reproduces very slowly. It can be attached to rocks or driftwood or held in place by weights or planted in coarse substrate. It will survive low light while its potential size and color is reached under intensive light, good water movement, CO2 injection and regular fertilisation. Soft water seems to have a positive effect. Bucephalandra can be planted in substrate unlike cryptocoryne but prefers nutrient rich substrate over inert. More or less consistent conditions are recommendable.

Sudden changes of the water parameters may lead to the disintegration of leaves, comparable to the “melt” exhibited by cryptocoryne.

These plants are largely wild harvested and shipped to feed global demand. Particularly for slow growers, the concern of over-harvesting and harm to the environment is evident and conservation is not openly discussed in any web forums. If you have the opportunity to keep this variety of plant, please propagate and share with others. This plant is truly a gem worth saving.

Bucephalandra sp.”Achilles”

Bucephalandra Kir Royale

Bucephalandra sp. kedagang

In the Borneo

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The Aquatic Plant Society
The Aquatic Plant Society is dedicated to promoting the science and aesthetic of the Planted Aquarium. We are committed to a responsible and environmentally conscious pursuit of the hobby, and invite all to share in and add to our knowledge.