Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Cuddling up to the Brazilian Edelweiss


This is the kind of plant you want to cuddle up next to in bed. Although perhaps just its leaves rather than the large woody base.

It's called Sinningia leucotricha, or Brazilian Edelweiss due to its place of origin and its woolly leaves reminiscent of the mountain daisy of Europe.  Those woolly hairs are at their cuddliest when young. As the leaf expands the hairs become sparser because they remain the same in total number (per leaf). 

The flowers are softly hairy - downy - as well. They are clustered above a group of usually four leaves, and their pastel orange colour and long tubular shape have evolved to suit hummingbirds (or vise versa I guess).


At the bottom of the plant, but partly above ground, is a big woody tuber (the caudex). This is enough to get the plant grown by cacti and succulent enthusiasts. It grows naturally beside other succulents, in rock crevices or on steep hillsides.


Sinningia is a genus of about 60 species in the mostly tropical and subtropical family Gesneriaceae. The species of Sinningia are all found in Central and South America, with most (like Sinningia leucotricha) found in southern Brazil (in this case the State of ParanĂ¡).

The genus was named after a gardener at Bonn University, called William Sinning. Mr Sinning raised the first seed of what became Sinningia in Europe.

According to the Sinningia & Friends website there are a few cultivars of Sinningia leucotricha around, including some with two tiers of the four leaves, and some without the distinctive blotches you can see where the tube of the flower flares out with a few round lobes.

In nature the plant has become threatened with extinction due to uncontrolled collecting - due to the beauty of its leaves and flowers. To relieve this stress, attempts are being make it easier to propagate and get into cultivation. It seems that growing under full sunlight is not recommended and 60-70% shading will give you the best vegetative development.

We have just one plant in our nursery, and none out on public display. I must tell Chris Jenek, the hort technician looking after this plant, to move into the shad.


2 comments:

Daisy Debs said...

Sinningia leucotricha - Sadly mine perished ...but I am looking to get another one and try it again in a different location..yes maybe less sunshine. It is a beautiful plant .

Tim Entwisle said...

That's a shame. Hope ours persists!
Tim