We were told we were not supposed to call this Sinningia gertiana, because the name had not been published yet. But we did anyway. We thought, ha ha, we know what its official name is going to be, so let's get a head start.
It turns out that the honoree's given name is Gerdt. Gerdt Hatschbach is the one who led Alain Chautems back to the original collection site after 25 years, putting my 25-minute memory to shame, and the species is named after him. So we have to change our labels after all.
Mauro Peixoto distributed seeds of this species under the name "S. sp. gertiana" at the 2002 AGGS convention in New Jersey. Grateful gesneriad growers snapped up the seeds, sowed them, and about a year later started complaining. "When is this thing ever going to bloom???"
Sinningia gerdtiana requires patience. I sowed the seeds in July 2002. Looked for flowers in 2003: nada. Looked for flowers in 2004: zip.
Or so I thought.
In October 2004, Susan Grose, then president of the AGGS, and her husband George stopped by for a visit. I showed her my plants, and happened to complain about this big weedy plant over here which never bloomed.
"Really?" she said. "What's this?"
So she saw my first S. gerdtiana flower before I did.
In 2004, that large plant in a 12-inch [30-cm] pot had four flowers. In 2005, however, it had a couple dozen flowers. Moreover, three smaller plants in smaller pots have also bloomed. So the determining factor appears to be age, not size.
This is a section of the plant (photo taken 17 October 2006), showing one of the most floriferous sections.
This photograph, taken the same day, shows most of the plant, which is about 100 cm [40 inches] across.
This species flowers in late summer or autumn. The exact blooming season appears to depend on location or latitude.
For me, at latitude about 37.5 degrees north, it flowers (outdoors) in October (and was blooming in December 2010). For Alain Chautems in Geneva, at latitude about 46 degrees north, it flowers in August. In the initial publication of this species (see below), it is stated that judging by "the only two known collections, flowers are produced around February-March" (August-September in the northern hemisphere). Whatever triggers flowering, it probably isn't day length (August is before the autumnal equinox, October is after it, no matter where you are in the northern hemisphere).
This photo, courtesy of Alain Chautems, shows the unusual fruit of this species.
The capsules of most sinningias dehisce like a pair of hands clapping, splitting top and bottom and spreading apart sideways. The capsule of Sinningia gerdtiana, however, splits left and right and opens like a duck's bill.
Botany geek moment here:
Here is a comparison between S. gerdtiana and its closest (but not very close) relative, Sinningia schiffneri.
|Attribute||S. gerdtiana||S. schiffneri|
|Growth habit||Freely branching low herb or shrub||Erect stems, most branching at base|
|Leaf shape and color||Green, edges serrate (pointed), backs can be tinged with red||Green, edges scalloped (rounded). One form has reddish leafbacks.|
|Flower shape||Broad tube. Flower about 2 inches [5 cm] long||Narrow tube with flaring lobes. Flower about 1 inch [2.5 cm] long|
|Flower color||White with purple streaks in tube and on lobes||White with purple dots in tube, but lobes pure white|
|Fruit||Septicidal capsule||Normal (for gesneriads) loculicidal capsule|
By now, some crosses have been made with this species. This picture is from Brad Walker, of his plant of Paliavana prasinata x S. gerdtiana. The cross was done by Mauro Peixoto. Brad has named his plant xSinvana 'Charity and Hope'.
The corolla has gerdtiana coloring and shape. At least in the picture, there is no hint of the prasinata waxiness and speckling.
On the other hand, the calyx, with its lobes joined far out toward the tips, almost into a pentagon, is more reminiscent of the paliavana parent. As can be seen in the pictures above, the gerdtiana calyx lobes are separated for most of their length.
S. gerdtiana branches freely and exuberantly, but this hybrid has the single stem characteristic of paliavanas. The leaves are much closer in coloring and shape to the prasinata parent.
Brad says that "it is very easy to grow if you have the room."
He has also crossed S. gerdtiana with S. eumorpha and a eumorpha hybrid of his.
|Habit||Freely branching low shrub|
|Dormancy||No tuber, leaves and stems not deciduous|
|Inflorescence||Flowers in leaf axils|
|Flower||White with purple streaks|
|From seed||27 months to bloom, under my conditions|
|Hardiness||Two plants survived 30 F (-1 C) in my yard with no damage (and even continued to bloom). However, both completely defoliated at 26 F (-3 C). One of them appears to be dead, but the other is making a comeback.|
|Recommended?||Yes, if you have room. I don't believe it is practical for under lights, but grown outdoors, it can be quite attractive.|
|Hybrids with this species||See listing.|
|Taxonomic group||The thamnoligeria clade.|
|Location||Along the border between Sao Paulo and Paraná states.|
Chautems in Candollea, 2010.
The species is named for Dr. Gerdt Guenter Hatschbach.