Codonanthopsis is a genus containing approximately 13 species found primarily in the Amazonian basin area of northern South America, in Central America, and in some islands in the Caribbean. Codonanthopsis are epiphytes with a trailing growth habit. They grow well in hanging baskets. It is unclear why Codonanthopsis is not more popular in cultivation.
Codonanthopsis is closely related to Nematanthus and Codonanthe. They are all within the same clade of Tribe Episcieae in the New World subfamily of gesneriads Gesneriodeae. More recent DNA testing from 2013 revealed that Codonanthe is more closely related to Nematanthus than to Codonanthopsis. Nematanthus and Codonanthe grow in the same geographic area, and they share the same number of chromosomes (2n=16). In comparison, Codonanthe and Codonanthopsis differ in their geographic locations, their number of chromosomes, the shape of their fruit, and the presence of corolla spurs, extrafloral nectaries, and anther connective tissue. Hybridizers have been able to create intergeneric hybrids between Codonanthe and Nematanthus, but there are no known intergeneric hybrids with Codonanthopsis.
In the wild, Codonanthopsis has a close relationship with ants. Ants use the fibrous roots from Codonanthopsis to support their ant mounds, and the ants feed from the nectaries found underneath the leaves. In return, the ants distribute Codonanthopsis seed to other locations.
The etymology of the genus name comes from Codonanthe and the Greek suffix -opsis, which means “looking like.” So, the name means “looking like Codonanthe,” which seems appropriate since many of these species were once in genus Codonanthe.
Codonanthopsis grow well in a well-drained soilless mix and under a 2-lamp fluorescent light shelf. Higher humidity levels well over 50% would induce better flowering and fruit production. Codonanthopsis can usually adapt to higher temperatures than Codonanthe.
- Distribution. Codonanthopsis are primarily located in the Amazonian basin area of northern South America. They can also be found in Central America and the Caribbean. They are usually associated with ant-gardens.
- Growth Habit. Codonanthopsis are epiphytic. They grow as subshrubs or as lianas (a woody climbing plant that hangs from trees).
- Stem. The stems are usually pendent, thick, and terete. The stem can be woody or woody only at the base, and it can have fibrous roots that grow from its nodes.
- Leaves. The leaves are opposite. Depending on the species, each leaf pair can be of the same shape or size (isophyllous) or can be of different shapes or sizes (anisophyllous). The smaller leaf of the pair of some species can be so anisophyllous that they resemble a stipule and that “stipule” is typically easily detached and shed so that the leaf structure looks alternate instead of opposite. The petioles are short, and the leaves are of a fleshy or papery substance. The leaf shape is lanceolate with its more pointed end that tapers to the base toward the petiole (oblanceolate-acuminate). Most species have nectaries underneath the leaves (extrafloral nectaries).
- Inflorescence. Axillary cymes with few flowers. The flowers are grouped together at one point (fasciculate). The flowers are small in size with slender pedicels.
- Sepals. The sepals are free at the base. They are unequal and the bottom, ventral lobes tend to be longer than the top, dorsal ones. The dorsal lobes are curved and bent backward to a spur on the corolla.
- Corolla. The corolla is typically white, narrowly funnel-shaped, and oblique to the calyx. The corolla extends past the calyx to form an outgrowth, or spur, at the top (dorsal) area of the sepal. The lips of the corolla have short lobes.
- Male Parts. Codonanthopsis has four stamens. The filaments are closely attached to the corolla base. They are flat and fused at the base. The anthers split with an apical slit. The nectary is a single dorsal gland.
- Female Parts. Ovary is superior and has an egg-shaped. The stigma is bilobed or just a small single mouth (stomatomorphic).
- Fruit. The fruit is a fleshy berry-like capsule. The capsule is slow to dehisce and dehisces in two valves. The valves can reflex to display the placenta, seeds, and funicles. The capsule is spherical, egg-shaped, or compressed, and it can be red, pink, orange, yellow, or green in color. The seeds are red, pink, or yellow, and they can be shaped like a spindle (fusiform) or elliptical.
- Chromosome Number. 2n=32 (most of the species); 2n = 16 (C. caribaea); 2n=18 (C. dissimulata)
LIST OF SOME CULTIVATED SPECIES
- Codonanthopsis ulei (the type species)
- Codonanthopsis anisophylla (formerly Paradrymonia anisophylla)
- Codonanthopsis calcarata
- Codonanthopsis caribaea
- Codonanthopsis chiricana
- Codonanthopsis corniculata
- Codonanthopsis crassifolia
- Codonanthopsis dissimulata
- Codonanthopsis elegans
- Codonanthopsis erubescens
- Codonanthopsis luteola
- Codonanthopsis macradenia
- Codonanthopsis uleana