Cryptocoryne of Peninsular Malaysia book review

Cryptocoryne of Peninsular Malaysia
Cryptocoryne of Peninsular Malaysia
by Ahmad Sofiman Othman, Niels Jacobsen, Mashhor Mansor

Review by Ghazanfar Ghori

There are only a handful good reference books available today on aquarium plants and even fewer when it comes to one of my favorite aquarium plants; species from the genus Cryptocoryne . The recent publication, ‘Cryptocoryne of Peninsular Malaysia’ by Ahmad Sofiman Othman, Niels Jacobsen, and Mashhor Mansor is a much welcomed addition to the sparse number of books on Cryptocoryne.

Plants from the genus Cryptocoryne are still under researched. With new species discovered every few years and ongoing research of the known species, the reclassification of existing species occurs fairly frequently as the complex genealogy is untangled. This book is by no means the final word when it comes to Cryptocoryne, but is the most current reference available on the research done on the subject to date. Comprising of many years of exploration, research and collaboration, this book serves as a reference of the natural distribution, habitat and a means of identifying species found in this region.

Currently, there are about 55 known species of Cryptocoryne, with roughly a third of them found in Peninsular Malaysia. In this book, each of these species is described in botanical detail, though for a person with no ‘botanical’ background some of the words used did require me to flip open a dictionary. The description of the habitats is a lot easier to read, as are the excellent notes on each individual species. Summarized from years of cultivation and observation, they provide valuable information that can be used by you in growing these plants successfully.

The book is well illustrated, with pictures of the plants, flowers, fruit and habitat of the 19 or so species. Although in some cases, the quality of the pictures leaves room for improvement, they do provide key information to the observant reader, showing the lighting conditions, water level and even the composition of the soil of the natural habitat. With the wide variation in the morphology of the leaves, the detailed pictures of the flowers serve as reference on identifying the species, with accompanying notes on the variation of the flowers themselves.
Also documented, is the effect of the destruction of the natural habitat on several species. As forests are razed and swamps are drained to make room for rubber and palm oil plantations, some Cryptocoryne populations prove to be resilient and establish new homes in the drainage ditches of these plantations. Unfortunately, that’s not the norm. Most populations die out, lost forever, except for the lucky few living on in private collections.

Whether you’re a novice in the hobby, or a veteran looking for a new challenge, I encourage you to join the ranks of the few who are dedicated to the preservation of this species. Reading this book will bring you up to speed with the current status and provide much needed information that can be used to successfully cultivate and preserve plant from this fascinating genus.