Vanhouttea pendula is a tuberless shrub with scalloped leaves. The name (pronounced PENdula) refers to the hanging flowers.
Another species in the Sinningieae with flowers that hang vertically is S. sellovii, but in the latter species the stamens project beyond the tube (are exserted).
V. pendula is easily distinguished from Sinningia sellovii in other ways too: it has no tuber, and its leaves are flexible and hairy and relatively smooth, rather than stiff and quilted like those of S. sellovii. The latter's flowers are mostly borne on an extended axis, rather than axillary cymes.
The picture also shows that the petioles are reddish on top, but plain green beneath.
This picture of the V. pendula flower was taken from below, and shows the markings on the corolla, which are reminiscent of those on several sinningia species, such as S. reitzii and S. lineata.
This is one of those species that requires patience. I sowed seeds in February 2002, and got the first two flowers (shown in the picture above) in November 2005.
The seeds were kindly provided by Tsuh Yang Chen, who gathered them in the rain while he and Mauro Peixoto were searching in vain for V. leonii.
As can be seen from the picture, the calyx lobes do not enclose the flowerbud. This is a characteristic it shares with (among others) the members of the "free calyx lobes vanhouttea clade". Examples of species where the calyx lobes do completely enclose the flowerbud are Paliavana tenuiflora and Vanhouttea lanata.
Because most vanhoutteas do not bloom easily outside Brazil, we have a page showing a comparison of the leaves of four vanhouttea species.
|Leaves||Green, with fine reflective hairs on leafback. Petioles are red on top.|
|Flower||Tubular, pinkish red, about 2 inches [5 cm] long, hanging vertically|
|From seed||45 months to bloom, under my conditions|
|Hardiness||This plant has survived 32 F (0 C) in my back yard. At 30 F (-1 C), the leaves were killed [December 2006]. In January 2007, the plant was exposed to 27 F (-3 C), and is probably dead.|
|Recommended?||Not unless you have a lot of outdoor space.|
|Taxonomic group||The free-calyx-lobe vanhouttea clade.|
Mauro Peixoto's web site has a page about Vanhouttea pendula.
The new species V. pendula was described in Alain Chautems's paper "New Gesneriaceae from Minas Gerais" (2002). It grows in Minas Gerais state of Brazil, in the mountains near where the three states of MG, Espirito Santo, and Rio de Janeiro meet.
Etymology: Latin pendulus ("hanging" -- think "pendulum"), from pendere ("hang"). Same root (via Latin pensare, "weigh") underlies the verbs penser (French) and pensar (Spanish), meaning "think". Dwell on that the next time you're being pensive.