by John Boggan
Grown at Smithsonian Institution greenhouses
Also known as Dalbergaria ornata.
C. ornata is an interesting and attractive species, with colorful red undersides to the leaves, and attractive red and yellow flowers. Like many "Dalbergarias", a large "fan" of leaves at the tip of longish bare stems gives an exotic appearance, accentuated by the display of flowers below the leaves. It is likely that pollinators are attracted from below, where the sun filtering through the leaves can produce a brilliant stained-glass effect. An alternate version of this species, apparently a different collection, has plain green leaves and a paler flower. The flowers and leaves orient naturally in parallel horizontal planes, as seen here.
Dalbergaria is a genus defined by Dr. Hans Wiehler of the Gesneriad Research Foundation. It is closely related to other members of the Columnea alliance, and many botanists do not separate Dalbergaria from the genus Columnea. At the Smithsonian greenhouses, this plant is grown as Columnea ornata.