Sinningia 'Hermit'

Sinningia 'Hermit' is a hybrid created by Jim Steuerlein of Florida.  It has striking dark foliage and contrasting true-orange flowers.

  1. Description
  2. Comparison with S. bullata
  3. Ancestry
  4. Feature table



This hybrid bears a lot of resemblance to its pollen parent Sinningia bullata.  It has the same quilted foliage and the same branching habit.  S. 'Hermit' has also inherited the tendency to bloom off and on throughout the year, instead of at just a single season.

The most important differences are in color.  If the plant is given sufficient sunlight, the foliage will be almost black. This makes a very dramatic contrast with the flowers, which are a pure orange.

The only real drawback to the plant is its floriferousness, or rather, lack of it.  It has relatively few flowers at a time -- both Jim and I have observed this.  This is not something one would have expected from is ancestry.  The unusual color and contrast with foliage counterbalances that shortcoming.

For best foliage color, the plant should be grown in full sun.


Some people use the word orange for all flowers not on the purple side of red.  To me, Sinningia bullata has red flowers.


Sinningia 'Hermit' has orange flowers.



Trait Hermit S. bullata
Habit Freely branching, lots of foliage Freely branching, some bare stems
Leaves Quilted, black Quilted, light green
Hairiness Some on leaf reverse Intensely hairy on stems and leaf reverses, especially new ones.
Corolla Orange, tubular, 3.7 cm long Orange-red, tubular, 3.7 cm long


The pollen parent of S. 'Hermit' was Sinningia bullata.  The hybrid has inherited many features from this ancestor.

The seed parent of S. 'Hermit' was itself a complex hybrid involving four species.

One parent was Jim's cross S. macrostachya x "Black Hill".  A section of this plant is shown at the right.  (I think of it as stack black.)

The other parent was Jim's cross S. conspicua x polyantha.  A picture of its flower can be seen here.

It will be observed that the four species which go into the seed parent hybrid have little visible effect on the appearance of S. 'Hermit'.  Jim reports that most of the siblings of 'Hermit' have normal green foliage.  This underscores that plant pigments aren't like mixing paint.  Red + blue does not always equal purple.  White + red does not always come out pink.  The pigments are the product of a chain of synthetic reactions, and a modification of just one of those reactions will alter the final product in ways that are not intuitive.

The colors we see depend on what light the plant reflects.  That depends not only on the chemical structure of all the pigments in the leaf, but also their electrical structure.  So we should not be surprised when we get unexpected results.

In hybridizing, unexpected is sometimes good.

Stack Black

Feature table for Sinningia 'Hermit'

Plant Description

Growth Indeterminate
Habit Small shrub, freely branching with age, much like S. bullata.
Leaves Quilted foliage like that of S. bullata, but very dark, almost black.
Dormancy Has a tuber, but has not gone dormant under my conditions


Inflorescence Axillary cymes, usually 1-2 flowers per axil.
Flowering Periodic throughout the year
Flower Pure orange, similar in shape to that of S. bullata.

Horticultural aspects

Hardiness Approximately the same as S. bullata
Propagation Cuttings are slow to root. In this way it resembles S. bullata
Recommended? Definitely.  Attractive plant.  Culture seems to be easy so far.


Hybridizer Jim Steuerlein
Fertility No reason it should not be fertile.