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The only place you cannot find Gesneriads growing is Antarctica. The group is a large family of flora that encompasses over 3,000 species. What are gesneriads? That is a hard question to answer because the group is so diverse and unique. Simply put, gesneriads are tropical to sub-tropical plants with at least 300 types of gesneriads in cultivation. Some of these you would recognize, like African Violet and Gloxinia, but many are unique to certain parts of the world and have bold and wondrous forms.
What are Gesneriads? Houseplant lovers will recognize many of the species in the Gesneriaceae family. Many of the plants make excellent indoor specimens and their wildly diverse forms make them a collector’s dream. Gesneriad culture can be challenging or stimulating, depending which way you look at it, but it is never dull. These plants often have sensitive systems to things like lighting, soil, and even water temperature and type, so growing gesneriad plants can be a challenge.
This large family contains members which are terrestrial or epiphytic, heat lovers or fine in temperate zones, blooming plants and foliage stunners. The group is so diverse that it is impossible to come up with one descriptive trait that would fit all the species. The Gesneriaceae are widely distributed throughout the tropics of the world, with a number of species growing in temperate climates, especially at high altitudes in mountainous regions of Asia, Europe and South America. There are Old World gerneriads and New World plants from South and Central America. Old World plants are from Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia. The types of gesneriads are often classed by tribe, genera and species but also by root. Rooting habits vary from fibrous to rooted, tuberous to rhizomous.