Sinningia douglasii was distributed for many years as S. verticillata. Under the latter name, it acquired a reputation for taking many years from seed to bloom, but more cooperative seed lines have since been collected.
This species is one of the few sinningias found widely as an epiphyte, growing on the trunks and branches of trees. In some places, it grows in the troughs of corrugated roofs.
The standard form of the plant has pinkish flowers with purple streaks on the inside of the flower tube (and to a lesser extent, on the outside). There is usually one dark streak on each of the lower three corolla lobes. The plant has two closely spaced whorls of three leaves each, giving the appearance of a single whorl of six leaves. The underside of the leaf has a dark red midvein.
This species has a dramatic flush of flowers in the spring. For a few weeks, the plant puts on a dramatic display. Then it is done for the year.
This species exhibits variations in both flower and foliage. While this specimen (and this one) have distinctly pinkish flowers, some clones are more yellowish in tone, albeit with the maroon markings. This is well illustrated in the 19th century botanical print of “Gesneria douglasii”, which also shows the characteristic habit of the plant, with successive whorls of leaves and flowers.
When resident on a tree, this species necessarily grows with its tuber fully exposed. When growing in the ground, the tuber will be only half buried. If raised from seed, the plant will position its tuber this way naturally, as illustrated by this photo. A close-up of a flower shows the patterns in the face and throat.