Well, I got to the airport 2 hours early this evening only to find out my flight was delayed by 5 hours because of low cloud cover in San Francisco. So, with quesadilla in one hand, strawberry margarita in another, I decided it was time to learn a bit more about these plants I'm trying to grow.
One of the most important things was this: Sinningia is a big genus with tons of species. To experienced gesneriasts, this is a "Well, duh" statement. But I had no idea the genus (and friends) was split into five clades (groupings of related species--basically, specific branches of a large family tree). With all the recent buzz about the Gesneriad Society's upcoming national convention and the much-anticipated hybridizers' meeting, I decided to join the hybridizers' group. I don't hybridize (yet!), but it's going to happen--I can't stop myself from knocking plants up. Knowing what clade different Sinningia species are in could at least help me figure out what is more likely to work if I try it. And perusing the hybrid list on the website gives me a starting point for ones to try, or could help me avoid ones that have been done before.
Another thing I learned was that Sinningia canescens seedlings look nothing like their adult forms. I got seed from the Brazil Plants group--but in the time between ordering the seed, getting them, sowing them, having them germinate, and transplanting them once they were larger than microscopic green fuzz, I had forgotten why the adult form interested me at all. (The answer is "White! Fuzzy! Tuber!")
So when I ran across the S. canescens page on Sinningia and Friends, I worried that my seedlings were mislabeled. A quick tweet from a gesneriad friend calmed my anxiety and reminded me of wisdom I learned during my botanical studies back in the co-ed days: Some plants look different as babies. Spinach is perhaps a good example of that--short and soft and round and yummy as a baby, but tall and not so tasty and pointed leaves as an adult. It's not an exact comparison, certainly, but still something I should be able to figure out myself (even a margarita and a half into my flight delay).
I don't have a photo of my own S. canescens seedlings, but closely related S. leucotricha's seedlings look almost the same:
Photo of Sinningia leucotricha seedlings by --ki--- on Flickr
I also learned that I tend to prefer Sinningia in the Corytholoma clade. I never realized how cladist I was until I saw the names on a list: S. pusilla, S. sellovii, S. defoliata, S. aghensis, S. helioana, S. muscicola. Most of the Sinningia I grow by choice (rather than random grabs from the swap table) are in this clade. A couple (S. gigantifolia, S. gerdtiana, and S. micans) aren't included in that generalization, but they are definitely the exceptions to the trend I'm noticing.
I wonder--is my preference for Corytholoma clade Sinningia a personal one, or one based on availability of seeds and plants? Are Corytholoma plants just generally easier to grow under my care?
I perhaps have plenty more reason to continue learning about Sinningia--but, while I still have 4.5 hours to wait for my delayed flight, I'm going for another margarita.