A fibrous-rooted gesneriad forms a fairly typical root ball which resembles the branching of a tree that is viewed upside down. African violets and a large number of other gesneriads fall into this category. Among the others is Episcia also known as the “Chocolate Soldier Plant” or “Peacock Plant” which has the added distinction of having stolons which spread the plant similarly to the runners of a strawberry plant. Aeschynanthus (Lipstick Plant), Columnea, and Nematanthus (Goldfish Plant) are other examples of the fibrous-rooted type. These three are commonly grown by hobbyists as basket plants as the majority have a trailing growth habit. Among the most popular and very closely related to African violets are Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose) and its trailing subgenus Streptocarpella.
Gesneriads come from around the world. The Streptocarpus group are from Africa as are the African violets (Saintpaulia). Columnea, a trailing plant, is from tropical America and the Caribbean. Two other trailing plants, Nematanthus and Aeschynanthus, come from various regions of southeast Asia. Primulina (formerly part of the genus Chirita) and Petrocosmea are again from southeast Asia.
Click here to see our Photogallery of popular fibrous-rooted types.