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.
In cultivation, however, it is somewhat different. 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.
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. This year (2008) I have started giving this plant a lot more water, and it has responded by assuming a conventional paliavana appearance, with leaves along most of the stem. The picture above was taken in July 2008.
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.
The seedlings were not very tolerant of being transplanted. Most of them died.
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.
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.
|Habit||Upright, mostly bare stem. Leaves only at the top|
|Leaves||Green. Sticky hairs on reverse.|
|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.|
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. tenuiflora.)
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").