Genus of the Month
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you might also want to visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family. Also, you can see my contribution to the
Conservation New England web site, entitled
"The Introduction of Non-Native Plants into Massachusetts".
This month's genus:
Number of Species: 150
Root: Named by Linnaeus after the Italian botanist Fabius Columna (a.k.a. Fabio Colonna)
Plants in the genus Columnea are mainly tropical species native to America. As is common for Gesneriads,
species in this genus have co-adapted along with specialized pollinators, in this case hummingbirds. Many species are also epiphytic,
meaning that their natural habitat is on the surface of other plants (epiphytes do not take nutrients from their "hosts", as parasites do).
There are several species of Columnea that are marketed as houseplants, often under the name "Goldfish Plant", a
reference to the shape of the flowers.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Columnea species:
- Perry's Perennial Pages, a web site created by Dr. Leonard Perry of the University of Vermont, has a page describing
several species of Columnea, how to care for them, and a small
- For a huge set of photos of different Columnea species, including several closeups of flowers, visit The Gesneriad Reference Web's
Alphabetical Listing of Photographs, then scroll down to the Columnea photos.
- Visit the Cloud Forest Alive web site to see a picture and description of
C. magnifica, then be sure to click on the link to see the picture of one of the few species of hummingbirds that pollinates it.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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