Dirk U. Bellstedt Stellenbosch University South Africa
Dirk U. Bellstedt
Stellenbosch University
South Africa
The genus Streptocarpus is another of the fascinating genera of the family Gesneriaceae which occurs in Africa (including Madagascar). This short resume on the genus obviously does not allow too much detail, and if you need more extensive information on the approximately 150 species of Streptocarpus, you should refer to the excellent book on Streptocarpus written by Hilliard and Burtt (1). Many hybrids of Streptocarpus species have been made because they can be grown with relative ease and many species can be crossed successfully. This has also lead to an extensive horticultural interest in the species. In this regard, the British nursery, Dibley’s Nurseries, immediately springs to mind, and the many members of the British Streptocarpus Society. In addition, much hybridization is done in Europe, the USA and Canada, and also New Zealand where I understand Streptocarpus grow extremely well.

By way of introduction, may I add that I am a biochemist and I perform plant molecular systematic and population genetic research. I have been a keen grower of Streptocarpus and Saintpaulia for many years and it is for this reason that I am now trying to unravel the complex relationships between the different populations and species of Streptocarpus which occur in the southern ranges in which the genus occurs in the Eastern Cape, the Transkei and Kwa-Zulu Natal areas of South Africa. I have described several new species of Streptocarpus in recent years. I have a large collection of Streptocarpus most of which are natural species, many of which I have collected in the wild with the required permits from South African conservation authorities. I also regularly assist with the Streptocarpus collection at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.