Full name and orig. publication: Sinningia Nees, Ann. Sci. Nat., Ser. 1, 6: 297 (Nov. 1825).

Etymology: Named in honor of Wilhelm Sinning (1794-1874), head gardener of the Botanical Garden of the University of Bonn.

Synonyms: Gesnera Plum. ex Adans. (1763), Gesnera Mart. (1829), Tapina Mart. (1829), Alagophylla Raf. (1837), Megapleilis Raf. (1837), Styrosinia Raf. (1837), Tulisma Raf. (1837), Fimbrolina Raf. (1838), Tapeinotes DC. (1839), Corytholoma (Benth.) Decne. (1848), Gesneria Mart. sect. Corytholoma Benth. (1846), Dircaea Decne. (1848), Ligeria Decne. (1848), Rechsteineria Regel (1848), Stenogastra Hanst. (1854), Dolichodeira Hanst. (1854), Orthanthe Lem. (1856), Biglandularia Seem. (1872), non H. Karst. (1856), Rosanowia Regel (1872), X Gloxinera Weathers (1895), comb. illeg.

Infrafamilial position: Gesnerioid Gesneriaceae (Gesnerioideae) - Sinningieae.

Description: Terrestrial, often saxicolous, rarely epiphytic perennial herbs or subshrubs, usually with hard-fleshy tubers (to 1m in diam.), rarely stoloniferous. Stems erect, less frequently decumbent, mostly unbranched, arising from the tuber, usually fleshly in the basal shoot portion, rarely stemless. Leaves opposite, or in whorls, or congested on top of stem, (sub)isophyllous, petiolate or sessile. Inflorescences axillary, few- to many-flowered cymes, or flowers in terminal, bracteose racemes or spikes. Calyx with campanulate tube, lobes linear, triangular or lanceolate. Corolla red, orange, white, greenish-yellowish, blue or purple, tube broadly tubular, cylindrical or obliquely campanulate, often gibbous at base, or ventricose above, limb nearly regular or (more often) bilabiate. Stamens 4, in 2 pairs; filaments adnate to base of corolla tube; anthers coherent, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Nectary of 1-5 glands, sometimes two enlarged dorsally, free or fused, rarely 5 connate in a ring. Ovary semi-inferior or superior; stigma stomatomorphic. Fruit an ovoid capsule, rarely fleshy-dry, dehiscing by 2 valves.

Chromosome number: 2n = 26.

Species number: About 65.

Type species: Sinningia helleri Nees

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

Distribution: From C America to N Argentina, but mostly E & S Brazil.

Ecology: Partly rain forest plants, growing in deep shade, partly growing on rocks (on inselbergs) exposed to full sun. 

Notes: As hybrids can be produced easily, and on the other hand, experiments to produce intergeneric hybrids with other genera failed, Sinningia was united by Moore (1973) with Rechsteineria. Recently also Lietzia was included (Wiehler & Chautems 1995). Molecular data (Perret et al. 2003) suggest that also Paliavana and Vanhouttea have to be included. Subdivision into three sections is envisaged by Chautems (pers. comm.). The different flower shapes and colors of Sinningia s.str., Rechsteineria and Lietzia are merely an expression of different pollination syndromes: the typically white or blue flowers of Sinningia s.str. are predominantly melitto-/euglossophilous (rarely psycho- or sphingophilous), those of Rechsteineria ornithophilous, and those of Lietzia chiropterophilous. Nectar sugar composition in relation to pollination syndromes havas been studied by Perret et al. (2001). Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern is the parent plant of the popular "Florist Gloxinias", with flowers in many color variants and peloric forms. Other species and hybrids are grown as ornamentals too.

Selected references: Moore, Baileya 19: 35-41 (1973), inclusion of Rechsteineria; Wiehler, Selbyana 6: 171 (1983); Skog, Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 65: 983-987 (1979), reg. rev. (Panama);  Boggan, Thesis Cornell Univ. (1991), morph., cladist.; Chautems, Candollea 45: 381-388 (1990), 46: 411-426 (1991), 52: 159-169 (1997), Gesneriana 1: 8-14 (1995), rev. in progr.; Wiehler & Chautems, Gesneriana 1: 5-7 (1995), inclusion of Lietzia; Chautems & Weber, in Kurmann & Hemsley (eds.), The evolution of plant architecture: 305-322 (1999), morph.; Perret et al., Ann. Bot. 87: 267-273 (2001), nectar & pollination syndromes; Feuillet & Steyermark, Fl. Venezuel. Guayana 5 (1999), reg. rev; Chautems et al., Brittonia 52: 49-53 (2000); Skog, Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 85: 1114-1128 (2001), reg. rev. (Nicaragua);  Perret, Chautems, Spichiger, Peixoto & Savolainen, Ann. Bot. 87: 267-273 (2001), nectar, pollination syndromes; Chautems, in Calvacanti & Ramos, Fl. Distrito Federal, Brazil, vol. 3, Brasilia (2003), reg. rev.; Araujo, Chautems & Souza, Bol. Bot. Univ. São Paulo 22(1): 43-51 (2004), reg. rev. (Serro do Cipó, Minas Gerais, Brazil); Perret, Chautems, Spichiger, Kite & Savolainen, Amer. J. Bot. 90 (3): 445-460 (2003), molec. syst. 

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


Sinningia bulbosa (Ker-Gawl.) Wiehler

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber

Sinningia brasiliensis (Regel & Schmidt) Wiehler & Chautems

Gartenflora, fig. 29 (1880)

Sinningia brasiliensis (Regel & Schmidt) Wiehler & Chautems [formerly Lietzia brasiliensis Regel & Schmidt]

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber (1981)

Sinningia cooperi (Paxt.) Wiehler

Cult. BG Geneva, phot. A. Chautems

Sinningia lindleyi Schauer

Bot. Reg.12, t. 997 (1826), as S. helleri Nees

Sinningia lineata (Hjelm.) Chautems

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber

Sinningia mauroana Chautems

Brazil, Sao Paulo, phot. A. Chautems (no. 283)

Sinningia pusilla (Mart.) Baill.

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber

Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern

Cult. BG Vienna, phot. A. Weber (1981)

Sinningia tubiflora (Hook.) Fritsch

Cult. BG Geneva, phot. B. Renaud


last modified: 2007-07-13