2023 Convention – Speakers

Virginia is for Gesneriad Lovers

July 3 to July 8, 2023

Tim Alderton – Not Just Houseplants!

Gesneriads are so often thought of as only being grown as houseplants or in a greenhouse, but they are so much more. Almost everywhere in the country, there are gesneriads hardy in gardens, not just the house. With some focus on plants hardy in the upper south, others may find that there are still many to try in other regions of the United States. His presentation will highlight some to try wherever you may live. During his 16 years at JC Raulston Arboretum, he has cultivated thousands of plants including many gesneriads that have proven to be hardy in the Southeast. Some genera that have proven hardy and should be tried more often are species and selections of Sinningia, Hemiboea, Oreocharis and Seemannia, to name a few. Different genera growing in sun to shade, wet to dry, rosettes filling crevices, large clumps in borders, and ground covers carpeting open shade represent many diverse gesneriads in the garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum and may work in your own gardens.

John Clark – Updates on the Classification of Neotropical Gesneriaceae: Field-based Observations from a Lab-based Perspective

John L. Clark’s presentation will focus on recent research and discoveries on the taxonomy and evolutionary biology of the Gesneriaceae. Some groups have remained taxonomically stable, and others are expected to change. What is noteworthy is that some large groups of Gesneriaceae, such as Besleria, are not likely to have any significant taxonomic changes. In contrast, some small groups, such as Alsobia and Cobananthus, are expected to change based on evolutionary-based studies. Additional upcoming research will be shared, ranging from a recently discovered genus of Gesneriaceae from the Andean foothills of eastern Ecuador and documentation of a Gesneriaceae hotspot on an isolated mountain in western Haiti. John will share photographic and video footage from exploratory research expeditions to highlight and explain “eld-based observations from a lab-based perspective.

Prasanna Naibi Shrungeshwara – Gesneriad explorations and evolutionary insights from the Indian subcontinent

Tropical forests of the Indian subcontinent harbor a diverse flora which is attributed to its long and complex biogeographic history. Understory herbs like gesneriads often receive less attention from botanists and conservationists alike, although they are more prone to extinction due to their unique niche and habitat requirements. In India, the Gesneriaceae is represented by one-third of old-world genera and more than 130 species. In this talk, Prasanna will provide a glimpse of the rich flora of Gesneriaceae in the Indian subcontinent and highlight some of the earliest attempts to collect and collate gesneriads of India. He will also present the latest update from recent phylogenetic studies and enumerate the evolutionary patterns uncovered in the genus Didymocarpus and related genera. Prasanna hopes to show and highlight that a small understory herb can add critical insights to our understanding of the unique biodiversity of tropical forests, especially in the Indian subcontinent.

Terri Vicenzi – Smithiantha: The Queen of the Rhizomatous Gesneriads

The genus Smithiantha is often overlooked by gesneriad growers because it is a seasonal grower and bloomer. This is unfortunate since by taking just a small extra effort to accommodate the needs of this Northern Hemisphere gesneriad, growers will be rewarded with spectacular bloom during a time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) when many gesneriads are not at their best. Terri will give us an overview of the many species, hybrids, and intergenerics available in cultivation and will provide us with techniques for successful cultivation and propagation, and she will also review the emerging trends in smithiantha hybridization.

(See additional speaker information in the First Quarter 2023 issue of Gesneriads