Sinningia nivalis

  1. In Brazil
  2. Urubici
  3. Feature table
  4. Publication and etymology

The picture below shows just one of several flower clusters on a very nice plant grown by JoAnna Behl of the Peninsula Gesneriad Society.  The streaks typical of its group of species (which includes S. douglasii) are very evident.  The flower photo at the right, sharpened to bring out the detail, is from the same plant.

Sinningia nivalis flower
Sinningia nivalis plant

Sinningia nivalis one of a group of species which share the characteristics of determinate growth (stems makes a few leaf nodes, then stops) together with pinkish-purple flowers with prominent longitudinal streaks inside the corolla or outside or both.  Some other species in this group are S. douglasii, S. rupicola, S. piresiana, and S. ramboi.  All these species are in the Dircaea clade, but the DNA evidence indicates that they do not form a tightly knit group within that clade -- they are scattered among a group of other species which do not have the characteristic streaked flowers (such as S. leucotricha and S. insularis).


Sinningia nivalis in Brazil

This is the Serra do Rio do Rastro.  In Brazil in 1999, we saw tubers of S. nivalis growing on the face of this cliff.  It probably gets pretty cold there in winter.  This species is supposed to be more tolerant of cold than other sinningias, but I don't know if that belief is bolstered by actual experience or is just an inference from the name (which means "snowy").

We were travelling in a tour bus, and the bus went down that winding road in the picture.  Our driver was very good!


Sinningia nivalis "Urubuci"

The Gesneriad Society seed fund currently (2021) distributes seed of this species with the locality name Urubici.  This location appears to be close to the canyon that we traveled down in 1999.

Urubici is a municipality in Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil.  Judging by the Wikipedia entry, the tour bus route in 1999 went very close to Urubici (presumably pronounced -- in Euro Portuguese, anyway -- oo-roo-bee-SEE).

Feature table for Sinningia nivalis

Plant Description

Growth Determinate
Habit Four-six leaves on short stems
Leaves Resemble those of S. douglasii
Dormancy Stems completely deciduous.  Dormancy appears to be obligate.


Inflorescence terminal peduncle
Season Spring
Flower Coral, tubular, with dark streaks

Horticultural aspects

From seed Four years to bloom, under my conditions.  Your conditions must be better.
Hardiness Is believed to be quite cold-tolerant
Recommended? Not exactly.  I had trouble keeping mine alive (and eventually failed to do so).  S. douglasii is at least as good and easier.


Taxonomic group The douglasii group of the Dircaea clade.


Chautems, 1991.

Etymology: Latin nivalis ("snowy"), ultimately from the same Indo-European root (sneigwh) as the English word snow and Russian snyeg.  The name of the state of Nevada comes from the same root.  Another word with the same Indo-European origin is the Greek niphas, whence the gesneriad genus Niphaea.