Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Advanced Search

Department ofBotany


World Checklist of Gesneriaceae

The World Checklist of Gesneriaceae culminates efforts at the Smithsonian Institution to record a complete list of names that have been published in the family Gesneriaceae and to determine the current status of each name. This represents the first time that all names known to be described in Gesneriaceae have been compiled in a single searchable list. The World Checklist remains a work in progress and will be updated periodically as new names, combinations, and synonymies are published in the literature. Please email comments, additions, or corrections to John Boggan [].

Go to Checklist Query

Data sources: The checklist is based on both original research and the literature. It is not our intent to publish new taxonomic information in the checklist and any data presented should not be considered definitive. In some cases the entries contain unpublished notes that represent the opinions of the authors or of other researchers as cited. References cited can be found in the “Annotated Bibliography of Gesneriaceae” . No systematic attempt has been made to include horticultural names or names based on hybrids known only from cultivation, although some names of historical or taxonomic interest are included. Some names could not be assigned to a currently accepted taxon, and are flagged as “status unknown”. Most of these names probably represent synonyms of existing species, hybrid taxa, nomina nuda, and other invalid names.

The Checklist represents the merger of two taxonomic databases that were independently assembled by the authors over different periods of time, who recorded data in somewhat different ways. This has led to some inconsistency in the records and the data derived from these two sources should be regarded somewhat differently.

New World names (subfamily Gesnerioideae) were compiled primarily by Laurence E. Skog from 1973 to present with assistance from Susan Wiser, Marie Kopp, Leslie Brothers, and John Boggan. Although based primarily on published monographs and floras, the status of these names in the list also represents the taxonomic opinions of L.E. Skog in collaboration with other researchers. Distribution data for accepted New World taxa are based on specimens examined and annotated by Skog and other specialists and can be regarded with a high degree of confidence (although some distribution records may be based on misidentifications, inconsistent taxon circumscriptions, and/or cultivated/escaped/naturalized plants). The type data for these names are nearly complete, and most types have been personally examined by Skog.

Old World names (subfamily Cyrtandroideae) were compiled by John Boggan from 1995 to present. Data were derived, largely uncritically, from the literature, and this portion of the list should be regarded as a nomenclatural rather than taxonomic list (although the nomenclature probably corresponds closely to currently accepted taxonomic opinions in this group as reflected in the literature). All validly published names are accepted as valid taxa unless they have been cited in the synonymy of another species; accepted names vs. synonyms are based on the most recent literature of the group in question. Distribution data are primarily based on floristic, monographic, and other literature supplemented by specimen data, and should be regarded with less confidence than for the New World taxa. Distribution citations may be based on misidentifications, conflicting concepts of circumscription, cultivated or naturalized taxa, or other erroneous information. Type data are incomplete, and all type citations are based on primary and secondary literature, rather than an examination of the specimens themselves except as noted. For names and particularly types of Hawaiian Gesneriaceae (all in the genus Cyrtandra), see the Flora of the Hawaiian Islands which contains more (and more reliable) information on these taxa, including information on type specimens.

Distribution data: Distribution is listed by country for all taxa. Distribution is also given by the largest political division (province, state, or department) for most larger countries (e.g., Brazil, China), or if several islands comprise a country, by island (e.g., Indonesia, Philippines). The list can be searched on any character string contained in these geographic regions.

Type specimen data: Type specimen data are still being compiled and will be included in a future version of the list. Type data are well documented and more or less complete for New World taxa, but much less so for Old World taxa (see above). Herbarium citations are abbreviated according to Index Herbariorum, ed. 8.

Bibliographic citations: B-P-H (Botanico-Periodicum-Huntianum and Botanico-Periodicum-Huntianum/Supplementum) and TL2 (Taxonomic Literature, ed. 2 by Stafleu & Cowan, and supplements) have been used to standardize abbreviations of serial and monograph titles, respectively. Brummitt et al. 1992, Authors of Plant Names, has been used to standardize author abbreviations. Not all records have yet been checked against these references so there may be some inconsistency in abbreviations of names and titles. Plates, figures, and other illustrations are not uniformly cited except when the taxon is typified by the illustration.

Generic Concepts: For the most part, generic concepts follow those of recent revisions and floras. Generic concepts and descriptions for the entire family are provided by Weber & Skog, “Genera of Gesneriaceae”. Data are included for the possibly gesneriaceous taxa Cyrtandromoea, Sanango, and Peltanthera. Basic data are also included for several genera now removed to other families (e.g., Charadrophila, Jerdonia, and Rehmannia), with a notation that they have been excluded from Gesneriaceae.

Number of species: The “World Checklist” for the first time allows a reasonably objective estimate of the number of species in the family Gesneriaceae. As of March 2007 there are 8,608 names in the list with an estimated 3,240 currently accepted species. The breakdown by subfamily is:

Cyrtandroideae: 2,154 species
Gesnerioideae: 1,066 species
Coronantheroideae: 20 species

The largest genera are Cyrtandra (ca. 600 spp.), Columnea (ca. 200 spp.), Aeschynanthus (ca. 185 spp.), Chirita (ca. 180 spp.), Streptocarpus (ca. 155 spp.), Henckelia (ca. 155 spp.), and Besleria (ca. 150 spp.). Most of these large genera are in dire need of revision. The number of species in each genus, and the total number in the family, will certainly change with further taxonomic work.

Suggested citation: Skog, L.E. & J.K. Boggan. 2007. World Checklist of Gesneriaceae. Washington, DC: Dept. of Botany, Smithsonian Institution.

Acknowledgments: many thanks to Susan Wiser and Marie Kopp for their early assistance with the New World names; Leslie Brothers, for her work on the database of New World names as well as numerous other projects on Gesneriaceae; and Sylvia Stone Orli, for her assistance in making the data available on the web.

Copyright: This compilation is copyrighted by the Smithsonian Institution, © 2005-2007, all rights reserved. It is presented for scholarly use only. Copying or redistributing the data in any manner for personal or corporate gain is not permitted. Privacy statement.

Last updated: 21 March 2007

[ TOP ]