What Is A Sinningia???

Sinningia & Friends

Welcome to the SINNINGIA and FRIENDS web site.  It is intended to provide the sinningia grower with a bit of botanical and horticultural information.  It's not scholarship, though -- it's just pictures and observations and opinions, plus facts I got from others!

This project had its (now distant) origin in an educational display (designed and formatted by Debra LaVergne) about Sinningia tubers at the 2003 American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society convention in Sacramento.

This site is dedicated to the memory of Hans Wiehler and the Gesneriad Research Foundation.

Special thanks to my sinningia mentors Alain Chautems and Mauro Peixoto.


At the top of each page is a set of links to lists of pages on this site.

  1. All published species of sinningia, vanhouttea, and paliavana.  The list also includes unpublished species which have holding names.
  2. Hybrids (but only a fraction of the ones that have been made).
  3. Tuber pictures (I love tubers).
  4. A variety of other topics, like horticulture, taxonomy, and surly, opinionated ramblings.

There's an erratically maintained site index and a link back to this page (except from this page).

The link always worth checking out is "What's New".  Every time a new page or picture is added, a link to it will be provided on the What's New page.


What's new Pictures and text added in recent weeks
Quick summary of the genus Sinningia
A taxonomical survey of sinningia, paliavana, and vanhouttea species
A horticulturally oriented key to the species of sinningia, paliavana, and vanhouttea, which may help in identifying some of them.
Debra's original educational exhibit.
Growing tips
Horticultural advice?  From me?  Good luck...
Related links
Other sites, references, about this site, contact information.


The emphasis is on showing instructive features of the plants.  I have tried to use attractive pictures whenever possible, but on some occasions I have used less-than-perfect pictures of less-than-beautiful plants when they showed some important aspect of the plant.

Also, I'm teaching myself photography, by trial and error.  We can hope that the pictures will get better as I get more experience!


Most of this material relates to species.  There are too many hybrids, particularly of S. speciosa and the miniatures, for me to discuss in the space and time available.  Also, I don't grow very many.  Except my own.  Not that they're so great or anything, but I can't bear to throw them away.



Other gesneriad-related sites.


Gesneriad society chapters in northern California


Used in documentation for this site.

How to contact me

Questions, feedback, etc.

Why Sinningias Are Special

Ornamental Value

Many of the sinningia species are attractive just the way they are.  A short listing of species that will appeal to all:

Horticultural Value and Hybridizing Potential

Some sinningias (like S. douglasii) have a very short blooming season, but others, like S. amambayensis, S. reitzii, and its hybrids bloom for many months.  Therefore it would seem that some sinningias would have potential as breeding parents for bedding plants.  Imagine a bed of plants with S. leucotricha foliage and S. cardinalis flowers!

Ecological Significance

Many gesneriads grow in places which are threatened by habitat destruction, and sinningias are no exception.  The type species (the species which defines the genus Sinningia), S. helleri, was thought to be extinct for a century, and has only recently been rediscovered in the wild.  As far as anybody knows, Sinningia concinna exists only in cultivation (and since it is not easy to grow, it is fragile there too).

Therefore keeping a sinningia alive is a contribution to maintaining the diversity of plant life on this planet.


Sinningia tubiflora flowers have a wonderful fragrance.  Sinningia conspicua blooms easily and has a more subtle lemony scent.  A few species have very delicate, nose-of-the-beholder aromas (such as S. guttata).  Finally, several sinningias with waxy leaves have scented foliage (S. aggregata, S. amambayensis, S. carangolensis, for example).



Sources and Acknowledgments

Pictures Unless otherwise noted, all pictures on this site are mine, of my own plants.  See the photo credits for pictures taken by others.
Botanical information Among the many sources, the ones I have used most extensively are Many many thanks to those who helped make this information (and so much plant material) available!
Publication information In the past, I have relied heavily on the Smithsonian's Gesneriad Checklist, but it is currently unavailable. Instead I use the International Plant Names Index. I have also used the AGGS Sinningia Register mentioned above, and The Plant-Book by D. J. Mabberley.
Cold hardiness information Unless otherwise indicated, all the cold tolerance data on this site is from my own experience.  Since northern California winters are not as stern a test for sinningia tubers and plants as other climes, I would be grateful for information which indicated the extremes that the sinningias could and could not tolerate.  This would be especially useful for the non-tuberous species.