Sinningia speciosa

Sinningia speciosa
  1. Variety 'Domingos Martins'
  2. Variety 'Carangola'
  3. Way down in the hole
  4. Propagation
  5. Charles Lawn (hybridizer)
  6. Feature table
  7. Publication and etymology

As with the African violet, originally derived from one species (Saintpaulia ionantha), breeding has brought out a high degree of diversity in flower color and patterning in Sinningia speciosa.  The picture shows the peloric flower of a seedling from a "mini red" selection from the AGGS [now Gesneriad Society] Seed Fund.  This plant and two from the same batch did well in a kitchen window, while their siblings under lights and outdoors languished.

Other wild varieties, 'Carangola' and 'Domingos Martins' are listed above in the table of contents but have their own pages.  There are more wild varieties, such as 'Cabo Frio', 'Pedra Lisa', and 'Cardoso Moreira', which do not yet have their own pages.

Tom Waits

Way Down In the Hole

This is a closeup of the innards of a Sinningia speciosa grown by Brigitte McKnight of the Peninsula Gesneriad Society.  This flower has parts in sixes: petals (not visible in this picture), stamens, and nectaries, which alternate with the stamens around the "pedestal" at the base of the stigmatic pillar.

It was, of course, entirely the scientific interest in this photograph that led me to include it on this site.

Charles Lawn

The most active and prolific hybridizer of Sinningia speciosa at present is Charles Lawn, of Australia.  The internet has pictures of some of his spectacular hybrids.


Sinningia speciosa is particularly easy to propagate.  The normal stem cuttings work well, of course, but so do leaf cuttings, just like an African violet.  Sometimes the result is a tuber which never sprouts, but with several leaves planted, the chances of success are very good.

Another method is pedicel propagation.  Vincent Parsons describes this method in detail.

Feature table for Sinningia speciosa

Plant Description

Growth Indeterminate
Habit Short stems with opposite leaves
Leaves Large, often brittle
Dormancy Completely deciduous.  Dormancy is obligate.


Inflorescence (often one-flowered) axillary cymes
Season Flowers in summer
Flower Bell-shaped, nodding or upright (peloric). Many colors.

Horticultural aspects

Hardiness Has survived 30F (-1C) in my yard.
class="namer">Propagation The easiest of sinningias to propagate: stems, leaves, even pedicels (see above).
Recommended? Yes.  I do not have good luck keeping S. speciosa alive, but there are many many striking hybrids (especially from Charles Lawn) that are worth growing.


Taxonomic group The speciosa group in the Sinningia clade.


The species was first described as Gloxinia speciosa by Conrad Loddiges in 1817 -- and what a naming muddle that has caused!  William Philip Hiern published it as Sinningia speciosa in 1877.  Two other published species, S. discolor and S. regina, have been reduced to varieties of S. speciosa.

In fairness to Mr. Loddiges, it should be pointed out that a number of other species we now call sinningias (e.g. S. tubiflora and S. hirsuta) were originally published as Gloxinia species (see the chronology), without causing any confusion in later years.  So we have the "florist gloxinia" and live with it.

Etymology: Latin speciosa ("handsome").  The species epithet presumably does not invoke the secondary meaning of speciosus, namely "attractive but false" (whence the English "specious").  speciosus derives from the Latin root spec, having to do with seeing, the same root underlying the species name conspicua -- and the word species itself.