Unifoliate Sinningias

Some sinningias have only one leaf at a time.

This picture shows the four species of Sinningia that can have as few leaves as one during a growing season.  They also have the appearance of bearing leaves directly from the tuber, although what looks like a petiole is in fact an abbreviated stem.

Sinningia defoliata and Sinningia tuberosa have fleshy, herbacious stems that strongly resemble petioles.  Sinningia helioana and Sinningia stapelioides have wiry stems.  Of the four species, S. tuberosa is in the Sinningia clade, while the other three are in the Corytholoma clade.

In tuber shape, S. tuberosa is again the odd creature out, with a gnarly, multi-branched tuber, while the other three have more or less standard disk-shaped (convex) tubers.

One other feature that at least three of these species share is durable dried leaves.

Here is a comparison among the four species.


  S. defoliata S. helioana S. stapelioides S. tuberosa
Growth habit One or more short (less than 2 cm) single-leaved stems, giving the appearance of leaves growing directly from tuber One or more (usually) single-leaved wiry stems (4-10 cm long), giving the appearance of petioles growing directly from tuber One or more (usually) single-leaved wiry stems (4-10 cm long), giving the appearance of petioles growing directly from tuber Multiply branched stems, each branch ending in one or two leaves.
Leaf shape (for unifoliate habit) Elliptical, up to 24 inches long, length-to-width usually less than 2:1 1-8 inches long, length-to-width is about 3:1 4-10 inches long, length-to-width is about 1.5 2-6 inches long, almost round, length-to-width would be about 1 were it not for the relatively narrow tip
Leaf margin Smooth Almost smooth, slight indentations Pronounced indentations Almost smooth, slight indentations
Leaf back Green (no trace of red except in young leaf, when the leaf top can be reddish too) Reddish, secondary veins in low relief Reddish, secondary veins in high relief Green, secondary veins in moderate relief
Tuber Disk-shaped, convex, can have stubs from previous years' stems Disk-shaped, convex Disk-shaped, convex Like a caudex, usually with multiple branches
Flowering season Winter Winter Winter Summer
Inflorescence Raceme, emerging directly from tuber, flowers held more or less horizontally Cyme with peduncle, emerging directly from tuber, flowers pendant Cyme with peduncle, emerging directly from tuber, flowers pendant [define]
Corolla shape and color Tubular, red with no conspicuous markings Tubular, red with white throat Trumpet-shaped, heavily spotted Tubular, orange-red or red
Calyx Dark red [define] [define] [define]