A Scientific Perspective

Prof. Dr. Anton Weber
Institute of Botany
University of Vienna

The Gesneriaceae are a middle-sized family of angiosperms, comprising over 150 genera and more than 3200 species of mainly tropical and subtropical distribution. The majority of species are represented by perennial herbs, but the family also includes terrestrial shrubs, small trees, a few annuals as well as epiphytes and climbers.  The flowers are usually conspicuous, variable in shape and often very colorful. For that reason many species of Gesneriaceae are cultivated as ornamentals, such as the Florist Gloxinias (hybrids of the genus Sinningia) and the African violets (Saintpaulia). The family also has  plants of significant scientific relevance, such as the single-leaved  or "phyllomorphic" species of Streptocarpus and Monophyllaea. Some representatives are also of ethnobotanical interest.

This very interesting plant family is reviewed in some detail in this article. The article is organized systematically for ease of reference, including sections specific to particular topics.

The topics covered are specified in the topic index to the left.  At the end of each topic there are links that will take you to the next (or previous) topic.  Alternatively, you may click on a link in the index at the left to go directly to a topic.  Most topics include images that may be embedded within the text, or that take the form of links that will open a large image in a new window.  In many cases, the images themselves contain links that when clicked will take you to a larger version of that image.

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