This last month or so is apparently the dawning of the Age of Gesneriads, as far as my personal collection goes. I've gotten a lot of them in trades recently, including my first Columneas, Nautilocalyxes, Codonanthes, Kohlerias, and Chirita. Mostly Episcias, though, because I feel safest with Episcias.
This isn't going to be an exhaustive list of everything I've gotten, because 1) there are too many of them to do that, and 2) some of them literally died before I could get a picture taken.1 These are just the ones I find most interesting.
First up, since I teased you about the gesneriads, let's begin with the gesneriad I'm most excited about. This is Columnea orientandina:
Why am I so excited about it? I don't know. It just seems cool. All the leaves have that red spot on the tip of the underside, the flowers are smallish but a nice clear yellow --
-- and it just seems, you know, likeable. Possibly the main reason I'm interested in it is because I'd never heard of anything like it before.
This is one of the ones that died, which was tragic and not-tragic simultaneously. The tragic part is that it was a weird color, plus a bromeliad genus that's new to me, and I think Dyckias have a really cool shape to them. It's not tragic in that the hooks on the leaf margins are wicked sharp, and it would have been all but impossible to handle this plant without hurting myself. A lot.
The Hatiora (better known as Easter cactus, or Rhipsalidopsis2) is one I actually bought. I've wanted an Easter cactus for some time now, but I've never seen one for sale around here until a few weeks ago. They only had two, and both were more or less bloomed-out, but this was such a nice color (the photo doesn't do it justice; it's sort of peach/orange/coral), and I get so few opportunities to buy them, that I went for it anyway. Paid $10 or $11 at Earl May, which is excessive for a plant this small, especially one that's already mostly bloomed-out, but at least now I have it. So far, contrary to the rumors about Easter cacti, it's held together and not disintegrated into a pile of unconnected segments.
This, on the other hand, is an Easter cactus I got via trade, so essentially for free, from a reader. You'll notice that it's way bigger and nicer. It will have magenta flowers, assuming that I can get it to flower next spring.
I forget what it was (possibly a post at Andrew's?), but at some point not that long ago, I decided that I needed to have a Kohleria, so I started trying to get one. I now have three, of which this is the largest. The person who sent it to me was not enthusiastic about the genus, for reasons which were either forgotten or unspecified, but I think I have pretty nearly ideal conditions for it in the basement, so we will see what I think of it after a decent interval of time has elapsed.
I know next to nothing about Nautilocalyx. So far, one unrooted cutting of N. pemphidius died almost immediately, and this unrooted cutting of N. forgetii seems to be doing okay. Even if it does well for me, it's not likely to be fascinating -- the flowers are smallish and white -- but it's novel. And maybe it'll do well for me. That always makes me like plants better.
Since this picture was taken, the plant seems to be preparing a flower bud, which I'll have to get a picture of so I can show you, I guess.
Easily one of the biggest plants I've ever received by trade (that's a 6-inch / 15 cm pot it's in), and if I can ever get flowers, that should be pretty awesome. It might be awesome even without flowers, actually. There are some concerns that I might not have a bright enough spot for it, but so far it seems to be hanging in there.
One of the more interesting Episcias.
There were seriously a ton of Episcias.
The USPS basically backed a truck up to the house and I went in the back of the truck with a shovel and just shoveled Episcias out for an hour or two.
Finally, for the pièce de résistance --
I knew of Pereskias before this, from pictures, but had never been that interested. So it's a cactus with leaves,3 big deal. The reality in person is much stranger. First of all, I was not prepared for the color. Pereskias are usually green, but this is hot pink and brownish yellow. It looked more like a badly-wilted pink poinsettia than a cactus. Second, even though there are leaves, there are also thorns/spines/whatever, which are seriously sharp, and hide at the base of the leaves, which wouldn't be that big of a problem except that I had to try to bend the leaves upward in order to keep from planting them along with the stem, and they don't really want to bend, so I was stabbing myself repeatedly while trying to pot the cutting up.
I'm a little worried about it: they're supposed to be incredibly easy to root, but nothing seems to have happened so far, and the leaves are a little floppier now than they were, which is possibly a bad sign. Granted, it's only been here a week, and I should give it time.
If it does work out like it's supposed to, then I will have a fast-growing, hot pink and brownish yellow plant on my hands that longs to be a thirty-foot vine that bristles with thorns.
1 Not really my fault or the sender's fault. First of all, they weren't a trade so much as a gift, and there were time constraints on it such that they had to be shipped during a cold spell in late April. They're still in the process of sorting themselves out, as far as who's going to live and who's going to die, but at the moment about 2/3 of that group are still technically alive. How many of them will stay that way, on the other hand, I have no idea.
2 But Plant List will back me up on Rhipsalidopsis being a botanically obsolete name.
3 If memory serves, Pereskias are thought to be the living group of cacti most similar to the ancestral cactus from which all the others descended. Hence, they still have actual leaves, and need a fair amount of water, and so on.