Paliavana plumerioides

  1. Propagation
  2. Transplanting
  3. Cold tolerance
  4. Relationships
  5. Feature table
  6. External links
  7. Publication and etymology
Paliavana plumerioides

Even Alain Chautems described Paliavana plumerioides as weird.  It's got a bare stem with just a few leaves at the top.  A xerophyte, it was found alongside small columnar cacti.  It is also very slow-growing: 1-2 cm per year in the wild.

The late Jon Lindstrom of Arkansas reported on Gesneriphiles that his plant, started from seed in 2008, bloomed in 2013.  He wrote that it apparently required a dry winter dormancy in order to flower.  As far as I know, he is the first person in North America to get bloom on this species.

My one surviving plant, shown above [picture taken August 2005], was 3.5 years old and 28 cm tall.  It is not particularly tolerant of drying out.  This plant was started from seed provided by Tsuh Yang Chen.

Paliavana plumerioides


In habitat, it is supposed to be a xerophyte (drought-tolerant plant).  However, I have become skeptical about the concept of inflicting habitat conditions on my pot-grown plants.  In 2008, I started giving this plant a lot more water, and it responded by assuming a conventional paliavana appearance, with leaves along most of the stem.  The picture above was taken in July 2008.

As of October 2015, the plant still has not bloomed.



This picture shows the crown of one stem, with its tightly clustered petioles.


I have not been able to successfully propagate it yet.  When I once cut off a top to root it, not only did the cutting immediately rot, but the leafless stem died too, so I wound up with one plant fewer than I had started with.

Transplant tolerance: not much

The seedlings were not very tolerant of being transplanted.  Most of them died.

Cold tolerance: not much

P. plumerioides is also not as tolerant of cold as most sinningias and vanhoutteas and even other paliavanas.  Plants I put outdoors died around 40F.

My tolerance: not much

This is not an easy plant to like (but see above: maybe I've been growing it wrong).  It does, however, have one redeeming quality.  It almost always has a few gnats or other small insects trapped in the sticky hairs of its petioles and leaves.


Based on the molecular data, the closest relatives of this species appear to be Sinningia schiffneri and Sinningia gerdtiana.

These three species make up what Perret et al., in their Sinningia DNA paper, call the Thamnoligeria clade.

Feature table for Paliavana plumerioides

Plant Description

Growth Indeterminate
Habit Semi-upright stem, which usually drops its lower leaves.
Leaves Green. Sticky hairs on reverse.
Dormancy Mine (indoors) does not drop its leaves in winter.


Season ?
Flower Greenish, campanulate

Horticultural aspects

Hardiness Died at 40F (4C) in my yard.
Recommended? Only if you're a dedicated sinningia-tribe enthusiast.  It won't survive outdoors in most localities, and it will never bloom indoors, except in Bill Price's house.


Taxonomic group The thamnoligeria clade.
Nectaries Five glands, fused in a ring at base.

External Link

For pictures of P. plumerioides in habitat (which includes Mauro!) and cultural information, see the page on Mauro Peixoto's web site.  Then try to figure out why anyone would want to grow this plant!

(If you have to grow one paliavana, I recommend P. gracilis.)


The species P. plumerioides was described in Alain Chautems's paper "New Gesneriaceae from Minas Gerais" (2002).  It grows in Minas Gerais state of Brazil, at an altitude of 600-1200 m (ca. 2000-4000 feet).

Etymology: plumeria + oid ("-like, resembling").