The Origins of Eleocharis "Belem," "Japanese Hairgrass," and Eleocharis "sp. Mini"

Matt F.

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I'm interested in doing a little collective investigative work on the origins of one of the most beautiful and low maintenance foreground plants in the hobby. The purpose of this thread is to share information and thoughts about this plant. The goal is to form some sort of consensus as to the origins as well as whether all three names describe the same [unknown] plant species that we commonly refer to at Eleocharis "Belem."

Please fee free to share pictures of your Eleocharis "Belem," Eleocharis "sp. Mini," and "Japanese Hairgrass."

Please share where you acquired the plant and any history you know about its origins.

My personal history with the plant:

I acquired starter plants from the SFBAAPS organization from fellow members. It's well known within the club that Aqua Forest Aquarium in San Francisco sold 1" clumps of what they were referring to as "Belem Hairgrass" for $20. This plant was sold there for a limited amount of time to select individuals. They stopped selling it as soon as their original supply ended. I have no idea where AFA got this plant. I believe they sold it in 2008 or 2008.

I farmed the Eleocharis "Belem" I acquired from SFBAAPS and sold it for a while on three sites: TBR, TPT, and SFBAAPS. I have since stopped farming this plant, but I still keep it in emersed and immersed forms. I gave some of this plant to Gerry here at TBR in emersed form to start his 180 gallon tank.

Emersed Belem (it can grow taller than this):
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Immersed:
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Immersed:
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Harvested my first 20"x1.5" portion of eleocharis belem. Barely made a dent. Gave half to two sfbaaps senior members.

Here are the two portions I removed:
belem002.jpg


belem003.jpg


I was in need of some amazonia 1 to fill in the divit. Henry Diep came through at 9pm at night! Thanks broski!!!

Here is what the tank looks like post trim.
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60P:
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Untrimmed for months:
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trimmed:
DSCN0106_zpsf9c61309.jpg[/url

Current Scape:
Day 3
DSCN0188_zpse380be25.jpg

Recent shot:
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A couple weeks after mowing the "H'Ra"
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About flowering, since your Belem has been growing indoors with artificial light, the conditions have been static. Without the necessary environmental cues such as changing temperatures, changing light levels, increase in CO2, etc. the grass may not flower. So maybe if you planted them outside and exposed to the elements, it may start to flower.
 

Matt F.

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I'm running my emersed belem tank on sun power, not artificial light. The growth patterns clearly mirror the seasons this way. Increased growth during the spring and summer months, then a decrease in growth during the winter. That said, I've also seen other aquatic plants flower in a static environment with "artificial" light once they hit the surface of the water. I think the goal for our tanks (static environment) is to reproduce and environment that is conducive to robust growth. Maybe temp has something to do with it, but in my neck of the wood, there is little fluctuation. We'd have to ask Tom who lives in an area with more extreme temps and has outdoor "Belem."

FWIW, I've never seen "Belem" flower or go to seed. Conversely, I've seen acicularis and parvula seed in emersed form. if we get real "belem" to flower, we might be able to ID the species--something that hasn't been done.

Solcielo lawrencia;118272 said:
About flowering, since your Belem has been growing indoors with artificial light, the conditions have been static. Without the necessary environmental cues such as changing temperatures, changing light levels, increase in CO2, etc. the grass may not flower. So maybe if you planted them outside and exposed to the elements, it may start to flower.
 
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The plants database at USDA has the genus Eleocharis listed.

Here's E. acicularis. It grows in every single state - except Hawaii - and Canada. There are records of it in San Francisco, too, where it is native. (Really? There are natural lakes and rivers in SF?) There are also illustrations and pictures to use to compare E. acicularis to "Belem". It's listed as an obligate wetland so will only grow next to rivers and lakes or freshwater sources.
http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ELAC
 

Matt F.

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The first reported case of flowering belem I've heard about. But it would be you of all people, Tom! Since we got our initial starter clump from the same lineage, mine should flower, too. I'll plant some outside today. By chance did you get any pictures? Were you able to compare the flower with known species of eleocharis? Having not studied botany beyond an "animal and plant diversity" course at a JC I don't know what's involved in determining species, but everyone usually suggests trying to get the plant to flower.

Tom Barr;118283 said:
It flowered last Spring for me outdoors.
 

Matt F.

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The first reported case of flowering belem I've heard about. But it would be you of all people, Tom! Since we got our initial starter clump from the same lineage, mine should flower, too. I'll plant some outside today. By chance did you get any pictures? Were you able to compare the flower with known species of eleocharis? Having not studied botany beyond an "animal and plant diversity" course at a JC I don't know what's involved in determining species, but everyone usually suggests trying to get the plant to flower.

Tom Barr;118283 said:
It flowered last Spring for me outdoors.
 

Matt F.

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Lake Merced was a river or stream that flowed into the ocean. Most of the creeks and streams in san Francisco were diverted and forced into pipes, which are now under the streets. We're suppose to have a creek run through our backyard through a pipe. Lots of springs in the area during the wet months. It's very possible. I wonder if they found the species in SF prior to about 25-30 years ago. It if was sooner, maybe it's a result of some hobbyist introducing the plant into the wild?

Solcielo lawrencia;118282 said:
The plants database at USDA has the genus Eleocharis listed.

Here's E. acicularis. It grows in every single state - except Hawaii - and Canada. There are records of it in San Francisco, too, where it is native. (Really? There are natural lakes and rivers in SF?) There are also illustrations and pictures to use to compare E. acicularis to "Belem". It's listed as an obligate wetland so will only grow next to rivers and lakes or freshwater sources.
http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ELAC
 
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Matt F.;118295 said:
Lake Merced was a river or stream that flowed into the ocean. Most of the creeks and streams in san Francisco were diverted and forced into pipes, which are now under the streets. We're suppose to have a creek run through our backyard through a pipe. Lots of springs in the area during the wet months. It's very possible. I wonder if they found the species in SF prior to about 25-30 years ago. It if was sooner, maybe it's a result of some hobbyist introducing the plant into the wild?

I've only been able to find references to E. acicularis in herbariums. Otherwise, there is no other documentation except in the literature that indicates it's in SF. The plant is also native to the US so I don't think it's aquarist-introduced species.

On an aside, I went to GGP to look for E. acicularis bud didn't find any. However, I did find that the lakes in GGP do have some aquarist-introduced species of aquatic weeds. Some of them have completely taken over the shore line of some lakes.
 

Matt F.

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There is also a reservoir off 7th avenue (by Forest Hill) in the City that has a whole bunch of aquatic bog plants. Always wondered about that place and how those plants got there. Most of the lakes in GGP are man-made, iirc.

Maybe water availability/level has something to do with triggering the development of flowers? I think Tom is growing his "belem" around the base of his bonsai tree(s). I'm not sure how often you water those, but I would assume that the soil would dry out in between watering, especially in the central valley during the Spring and Summer. That would explain why my emersed stuff doesn't seed/flower and his does? Could be temp, too. Not sure though. I haven't studied plants enough to know. We're both using sunlight as a source. Could be soil type, too. I'm using nutrient rich aqua soil. Not sure if he's using inert high CEC substrate like Akadama.

Solcielo lawrencia;118304 said:
I've only been able to find references to E. acicularis in herbariums. Otherwise, there is no other documentation except in the literature that indicates it's in SF. The plant is also native to the US so I don't think it's aquarist-introduced species.

On an aside, I went to GGP to look for E. acicularis bud didn't find any. However, I did find that the lakes in GGP do have some aquarist-introduced species of aquatic weeds. Some of them have completely taken over the shore line of some lakes.
 

Matt F.

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Considering that E. parvula or acicularis have similar growth and is cheaper, it's probably just a way to make a quick extra couple of AUD by calling it "Belem" since it appears to be in demand right now.
 

Matt F.

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This plant has had a steady amount of demand in the hobby and no real commercial source to this point. Rumor in the APC thread is that tropica acquired some "belem" and started to market it as eleocharis "sp. Mini." Not sure if this is the same plant. Only way to acquire the plant is from hobbyists, but there might be sellers who try to deceive by trimming parvula or acicularis to make it look like belem. Unethical, but possible. I sold a lot of this plant when I was farming it. always a demand, which is why I'm baffled as to why it's not more common in the hobby. I guess people get bored of it after a while, or the plant gets mixed in with other contaminant species like riccia or moss.

Solcielo lawrencia;118312 said:
Considering that E. parvula or acicularis have similar growth and is cheaper, it's probably just a way to make a quick extra couple of AUD by calling it "Belem" since it appears to be in demand right now.
 

AaronT

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It's really difficult to tell different Eleocharis species apart. As Cavan mentioned in the thread on APC about this you need a pressed specimen with mature spikes (flowers) and even then you need an expert with a microscope. If someone ever gets it to flower and has time to press it I can tell you how to contact Cavan and he'll take it to the Eleocharis expert at the Smithsonian herbarium.

We have a really nice one in our club that has fine leaves like acicularis, but gets 12" tall. We've been unable to identify that one as well. :(
 

Matt F.

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Hi, Aaron--

Good to know. Maybe Tom can provide the flower next Spring when his flowers again. How do you go about pressing the plant?

Are the leaves on the plant you mentioned thinner than acicularis? There is a hairgrass (eleocharis vivipara). you have any pics? :)

Allegedly eleocharis "belem:"
http://images.search.yahoo.com/imag...=yhs-att-att_001&hsimp=yhs-att_001&hspart=att



AaronT;118351 said:
It's really difficult to tell different Eleocharis species apart. As Cavan mentioned in the thread on APC about this you need a pressed specimen with mature spikes (flowers) and even then you need an expert with a microscope. If someone ever gets it to flower and has time to press it I can tell you how to contact Cavan and he'll take it to the Eleocharis expert at the Smithsonian herbarium.

We have a really nice one in our club that has fine leaves like acicularis, but gets 12" tall. We've been unable to identify that one as well. :(
 
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Matt F.

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Here are a few pictures of my buddy Pat's tank (these are Pat's pictures used with permission):


IMG_2661.jpg


This Belem comes from the same source as mine, but his has the more characteristic "Belem" growth pattern than mine. Note the short curly leaves and the compact growth. Mine is from the exact same source. This is evidence that suggest environment plays a role in the appearance and growth patter of the plant.
 

Matt F.

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Just a word of caution out to everyone. I've been informed that people on other websites are selling Eleocharis Parvula as Eleocharis "Belem." I'd like to think that the sellers are misled to believe that what they are selling is "belem," but there is an undeniable part of me that thinks they are doing this for profit at the expense of unknowing buyers. So BEWARE. "Belem" is still considered a rarer variety of dwarf hairgrass. The only way to get it is via fellow hobbyists. When it doubt, take a picture and ask.
 
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Matt F.

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Growth patterns. Those of us who have grown E. Belem know the difference.

Typical Parvula growth:
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/12942-eleocharis-parvula-or-belem-in-this-pic

Typical Belem growth:
http://www.barrreport.com/showthrea...irgrass-quot-and-Eleocharis-quot-sp-Mini-quot

Obvious differences to those who have grown "Belem." In immersed form, "belem" is MUCH more compact than Parvula. leaves on Belem are much more curly than Parvula.

Solcielo lawrencia;118548 said:
How can one even tell the difference?
 
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