This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, shady; they grow wild in shady places). Gesneriaceae. Choice and interesting warm-house plants, E. cupreata being much prized for baskets.
Herbs, with long, short or no hairs: stem from a creeping root, branched or not: leaves opposite, equal or not in size: flowers pedicelled, axillary, solitary or clustered; corollas mostly scarlet, rarely whitish or purplish; tube straight or curved, more or less spurred at the base; limb oblique or nearly equal; lobes 5, spreading, rounded. - Perhaps 30 species, all tropical American.
Episcia cupreata is one of the standard basket plants, especially for the warmest greenhouses. It can also be used in pyramids and mounds, as told under Fittonia. As it does not require so close an atmosphere as the fittonias, it can be grown in some living-rooms and perhaps outdoors in summer in a shady place. Its chief charms are the slender, trailing habit, the soft hairiness of the leaves, the coppery hue, which is often laid on like paint in two broad bands skirting the midrib, and the rarer and perhaps finer metallic bluish luster of which one occasionally gets a glimpse in a finely grown specimen. Give very rich, fibrous loam, mixed with peat, leaf-mold and sand; in summer partial shade. (Robert Shore.) a. Flowers pale lavender to white.
Hook. (Cyrtodelra chontalensis, Seem.). stem stout, more or less ascending, dark reddish purple, 6-10 in. long: leaves opposite and irregularly whorled, 3-4 in. long, oblong-ovate to elliptic-ovate, crenate, obtuse, rounded at the base, decidedly convex on both sides of the midrib and between the much-sunk veins; margins recurved, green, marked with regular purple patches, which advance from the margins between the veins toward the midrib and are more or less oblong: flowers solitary or in small clusters; corolla-tube with a sac at the base, the limb oblique, l 1/2-2 in. across, with small and regular but conspicuous and beautiful teeth. Chontales region of Nicaragua. B.M. 5925. R.B. 22:241. F.S. 18:1924.
aa. Flowers scarlet. B. Leaves usually not green, or only partially so.
Hanst. (Achimenes cupreata, Hook.). Fig. 1403. stems slender, creeping, branched, rooting at the joints, with a main branch rising erect a few inches, which bears the flowers and the largest leaves: leaves copper-colored above: flowers solitary, 9 lines wide, scarlet, with a small sac and denticulate limb. Nicaragua. B.M. 4312. variety viridifolia, Hook., has green foliage and larger flowers, 1 in. across. B.M. 5195.
Fig. 1403. Episcea cupreata.
Benth. & Hook. (Cyrtodelra cocci-nea, Hort., B. S. Williams). Leaves dark metallic green, 3-4 in. long, 2 1/2-3 in. wide. - Free-flowering. Some of the plants sold as E. metallica, a- name otherwise unknown in botanical literature, probably belong here.
bb. Leaves a rich dark green.
Hook. A beautiful, creeping, much-branched hothouse plant, covered throughout with soft villous pubescence: leaves ovate to elliptic, wavy and serrate margined, ciliate: flowers axillary, solitary, the calyx prominently 1-sided, the sepals with recurved tips; corolla bright red, the limb deeper colored than the tube which is about 1 1/2 in. long; corolla-lobes rounded and hairy toward the throat. N. S. Amer. B.M. 6136. G.W. 3, p. 161.