Family Resemblance

by Carl Strang

A few days ago I found this in my aquarium:

My aquarium has fish varieties native to the Amazon River and its tributaries. I have not been as fastidious with the plants, wanting ones that can stay ahead of the snails. So, over the years I have added freshwater aquatic plants of many varieties without regard to geographic origin. The plant in the photo first bloomed in September of 2003. Right away I recognized something familiar about it. Do you see? It may not be clear in the photo, but this bloom has the same floral structure as a Jack-in-the-pulpit. The plant has bloomed perhaps three times since then. This time I decided to see if my hunch was correct. Going back to my notes I found that this plant is in the genus Anubias. A quick on-line search confirmed my guess. Anubias is an African member of family Araceae, the same family as Arisaema, the genus of the Jack-in-the-pulpit and the green dragon of our local flora.

Another member of this family is the skunk cabbage (shown), which likewise has its flowers at the base of a thick finger-like stalk wrapped in a leaflike spathe. The key to getting past the overwhelming diversity of flowering plants is to study their families.

I can’t leave my aquarium without showing off its present star.

I know, I know, this angelfish is not wild colored, but when I decided to add the species to the aquarium this one, then tiny, appealed to me. Beautiful, yes, but with personality, if you can believe me. And still a food hound despite having leveled off in its growth.

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