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Gesneriads

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Gesneriads collection (Episcia cupreata 'Acajou')
Photo: Gilles Murray

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Description

Everyone knows African violets, of course! They belong to the genus Saintpaulia and are part of the large tropical family called Gesneriaceae. Plants in this family have colourful flowers in various shapes, the result of long evolution alongside the pollinators that help propagate them.

The family name – Gesneriaceae (or Gesneriads) – comes from the genus name Gesneria. Linnaeus (1707-1788) named the genus in honour of Swiss naturalist Konrad Gesner (1516-1565).

History

The Gesneriaceae, or Gesneriad, collection at the Montreal Botanical

Garden consists of 179 taxa, including 161 species representing 34 genera. Part of the collection is displayed in one of our ten exhibition greenhouses; the bulk, however, is housed in two other service greenhouses, where the plants are propagated and cultivated before they are eventually put on display. Two names in particular are associated with our collection: Henry Teuscher and Marcel Raymond.

Henry Teuscher (1891-1984), the Botanical Garden’s first curator, collected Gesneriaceae during many field trips to the tropics. The Trichanta teuscheri and Alloplectus teuscheri species were named in his honour.

Marcel Raymond (1915-1972), the Botanical Garden’s second curator, devoted many years of his career to studying Gesneriaceae (Raymond, 1965). His work on this group of plants – increasing the number of species and providing a better understanding of the morphological variations found within this family – vastly improved the quality of Garden’s collection. The species name Columnea raymondii is in honour of the Quebec-born botanist.

Where and when

Begoniaceae and Gesneriads: Year round!

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