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2006-11-06Columnea 14.jpg
Columnea crassifolia
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Gesneriaceae
Genus: Columnea

About 200, see text

  • Dalbergaria
  • Pentadenia
  • Trichantha

and see text

Columnea is a genus of around 200 species of epiphytic herbs and shrubs in the family Gesneriaceae, native to the tropics of the Americas and the Caribbean. The tubular or oddly shaped flowers are usually large and brightly colored – usually red, yellow, or orange – sometimes resembling a fish in shape. A common name is flying goldfish plants (see also the related Nematanthus) due to the unusual flower shape.

The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus after the Latinized spelling of the name of the 16th-century Italian botanist Fabio Colonna (Latin: Fabius Columnus).[1][2]

The segregate genus Bucinellina is considered by many botanists a synonym of Columnea. A full list of the species now accepted in the genus, along with their synonyms, can be found at the World Checklist of Gesneriaceae.


Columnea species grow as epiphytic plants in the wild and require bright light, good air circulation, and a well-drained growing medium that is allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. They are very tolerant of underpotting and seem to bloom best when potbound. Most are tropical plants and are easy to grow under indoor or greenhouse conditions but some species come from high altitudes and require cooler temperatures to grow well or bloom. Many of the species are seasonal bloomers, but hybrids and cultivars can be more or less continuously blooming.

The hybrid Columnea × banksii has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3]


The species classified under Columnea include the following:[4]


  1. ^ Anton Weber & Laurence E. Skog (July 13, 2007). "Columnea s.str. (sensu Wiehler 1983)". The Genera of Gesneriaceae. Basic information with illustration of selected species. Ed. 2. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Stearn, W.T. (2004). Botanical Latin (4th ed). Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. p. 283. ISBN 9780881926279.
  3. ^ "Columnea × banksii". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  4. ^ L.E. Skog & J.K. Boggan (2007). "World Checklist of Gesneriaceae". Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved February 13, 2012.

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