Many years ago my Mom gave me a few pots with these beautiful colored bells, some red with red dots, some red with yellow tips and red dots and some purple. I could see the leaves were different, but the flowers seemed so much alike, though they had different colors. My Mom didn't know their names, but I NEEDED to know, it's my hobby to know all my plant's names. If it weren't for the computer and the internet, I don't know how I would have managed it, but going online has changed everything, so much that I could find the names for my plants, here on Dave's Garden. They were sinningia, episcia and achimenes, as I thought I recognized them from the pictures.
Much later I saw a gloxinia for the first time. My best friend had one and I thought it was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen. I asked her what was the name of the flower and she said it was a gloxinia. She gave me a few leaves which, she said, I should keep in a glass of water so they could root. I was amazed when I saw that two of them had developed some sort of pink tubers after about two months. I planted both in pots and they were my first gloxinias. I've always known those were gloxinias. And even though I could see the resemblance between gloxinia and my other plants which I knew were sinningia, episcia and achimenes, I didn't relate at that time. Recently I wrote an article about gloxinia and during my research I was surprised to find out what big changes have been made among the gloxinia genera. That that the gloxinias I knew aren't called Gloxinia anymore, but Sinningia. This is how I've found out about the New World names for the Gloxinia-like species (Gesneriaceae family)as it was called. Actually it is a classification of the species in the Gesneriaceae family (Gesneriads) on basis of both morfological and biogeographical differences which divides species in two major subfamilies : the sub-family Cyrtrandoideae in the Old World and the sub-family Gesnerioideae in the New World. The difference between species comes from the place where each of the sub-family species are growing, Old World reffering to antique continents, Asia, Europe and Africa and the New World reffering to the later discovered continents, the Americas and Australia. Gesneriads species are mostly growing in South and Central America.
Gesneriad species have been moved from one genus to another and new genera were created for a better classification of the species. Botanists have been trying to clasify these species for quite some time, starting 1838, according to excellent sources, such as the University of Vienna and the Smithsonian Institution. They've made these classifications considering complicated differences between species, such as the anisocotylous seedling or the nectary being adnate to the ovary. The latest classification of the Gesneriaceae was made by professor Anton Weber from the University of Vienna in 2004 according to the differences between molecular systematics of the species. Sounds complicated and I don't want to bore you with these scientific information, but it's good to know, for our botanical vocabulary and knowledge.
The species I am interested in belong to the Gesnerioideae sub-family from the Gesneriaceae family, tribe Gloxinieae (Kohleria and Achimenes) and tribe Sinningieae (Sinningia).
Gloxinia is a genus of three species of tropical rhizomatous herbs in the flowering plant family Gesneriaceae, Gloxinieae tribe. The species were primarily found in the Andes of South America, mostly in Brazil - where they are still growing - especially in the humid rainforest and in the rocky savannah. The gloxinia species are characterized by having a raceme-like flowering stem and scaly rhizomes. Rhizomes are subterranean stems which are growing underground, sending roots and shoots from its nodes. Rhizomes can survive drought and cold and sprout again when the weather conditions are favorable.
Sinningia is a genus of tubers growing in the rainforest of South-America, from the Gesneriaceae family, Sinningieae tribe. Tubers are underground storage organs which allow the plants to survive periods of drought or cold. Under normal conditions, starting spring, sinningias are growing and flowering, then go into full dormancy in the fall, for all winter long. At first both tuberous and rhizomatous plants were listed in the Gloxinia genera, but later they were separated: the rhizomatous plants remained in the Gloxinia genera, while the tuberous were listed as Sinningia genera. The best-known species from the Sinningia genera is Sinningia speciosa which has become very popular as an indoor plant, under the name of Gloxinia speciosa or just Gloxinia. Gardeners created various cultivars from this original species by hybridizing Sinningia speciosa with Sinningia maxima. The new plant was placed under the name of florist Gloxinia or the modern Gloxinia.
Kohleria is a large genus of tropical herbs from the Gesneriaceae family, Gloxinieae tribe, growing from scaly rhizomes in Central and South America. Leaves are hairy and the flowers are colored, with attractive spotting. They were very popular in Europe in the 19th century after being introduced from America, but dissapeared almost entirely in the early 20th century. Only recently plant breeders have started to work with this genus again. Kohleria species and hybrids have been oftenly mistaken and listed under different names, such as Achimenes.
Achimenes is a genus of rhizomatous herbs also from the Gesneriaceae family, Gloxinieae tribe, also growing from scaly rhizomes, especially in North America, Mexico. Leaves are hairy and their flowers are attractively colored. Many hybrids have been produced, especially from the A. longiflora and A. grandiflora species.
Now that I know the real name of my Gesneriads, I'm feeling much better. It's always good to put a face to the name, as they say - in my case, it was vice-versa!
 - http://gesneriads.ca/aboutges.htm
 - http://gesneriads.ca/Articles/Weber%20-%20Scientific%20Overview/Gesneriaceae_Article_Weber.htm (see "Classification of the Gesneriaceae" in the index)
 - http://www.genera-gesneriaceae.at/ (see "Classification of Gesneriaceae - Weber 2004" in the index)