Columnea s.str. (sensu Wiehler 1983)

= Columnea L. sect. Columnea (see Kvist & Skog 1993).

Full name and orig. publication: Columnea L., Sp. pl., ed. 1: 638 (1 May 1753).

Etymology: Named after Fabio Colonna (Latin Fabius Columnus) (1567-1640), professor of botany in Naples. He was the first to depict plants by copper-plate illustrations.

Infrafamilial position: Gesnerioid Gesneriaceae (Gesnerioideae) - Episcieae.

Description: Epiphytic herbaceous or suffruticose plants. Stems ascending, spreading or pendent. Leaves iso-, occasionally (strongly) anisophyllous. Axillary cymes of one to few flowers, sometimes borne below the foliage. Sepals equal. Corolla mostly "columneoid" (tube basally narrow, gradually widening, never inflated, upper and lateral lobes joined into a "galea", lower-most lobe narrow and reflexed); colour red or red with yellow. Stamens 4, anthers cohering. Nectary of a single dorsal gland. Ovary superior, globose. Fruit a globose or subglobose berry of usually white colour.

Chromosome number: 2n = 18.

Species number: Over 75.

Species names (incl. publication and synonyms): See Skog, L.E. & J.K. Boggan. 2005: World checklist of Gesneriaceae:

Type species: Columnea scandens L.

Distribution: C America (the Caribbaean islands, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guayana Highlands and NE Brazil). Center of diversity is Panama and Costa Rica.

Ecology: Epiphytes of lowland and montane forests.

Notes: The typical "columneoid" corolla is unmistakable and most distinctive, but not exclusive. Pollination seems to be essentially by hummingbirds.

Selected references: Wiehler, Phytologia 27: 309-328 (1973); Wiehler, Selbyana 1: 32-35 (1975); Wiehler, Selbyana 6: 187 (1983); Kvist & Skog, Allertonia 6: 327-400 (1993), reg. rev. (Ecuador).

Bibliography: See Skog, L.E. & J.K. Boggan. 2005. Bibliography of the Gesneriaceae. 2nd edition:


Columnea scandens L., type species

Bot. Mag., t. 5118 (1859)

Columnea gloriosa Sprague

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber (1971)

Columnea tulae var. flava  Urb.

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber (1971)


last modified: 2007-07-13