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gesneria (gĕsnĭrˈēə) [key], common name for some members of the Gesneriaceae, a family of chiefly tropical and subtropical perennial herbs and shrubs with showy blossoms. The best-known members of the family are the African violets (most of which are hybrids of Saintpaulia ionantha ), cultivated for their blossoms and for the purplish leaves often characteristic of this family. Other cultivated ornamentals include the African Cape primrose (genus Streptocarpus ) and several rock garden and pot plants, e.g., Ramonda and Haberlea of Europe, and gloxinia ( Sinningia speciosa ) of Brazil—not to be confused with species of the genus Gloxinia, which are not cultivated. The Gesneria genus is native to tropical America and the West Indies. Gesneria is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Scrophulariales, family Gesneriaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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