September 13, 2011

What Is A Gesneriad: Jim Roberts

by Kenneth Moore

The upcoming show and sale of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society includes several lectures about various gesneriad-growing topics.

On Sunday, September 18, at 1:30 pm at The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, Jim Roberts will be presenting the talk "What is a Gesneriad?" Gesneriads are such a diverse family, it's often difficult to tell what ties them all together, Jim says. His talk will introduce the multitude of gesneriads in an approachable way for anyone to learn more about the family. "I'm not a botanist and will keep the talk non-scientific, or at least without a lot of terms that few will understand," Jim says.

Jim Roberts is a noted gesneriad hybridizer who has created many popular hybrids, particularly Kohleria ‘Emily Roberts’ and Gloxinia ‘Dragonsong.’ For 12 years he and his wife operated Roberts’ Gesneriads, selling more than 1,200 species and hybrids of gesneriads worldwide.

Gloxinia 'Dragonsong'
Jim's Gloxinia 'Dragonsong'

Jim is very active in The Gesneriad Society and currently serves on the Board of Directors and as the Convention Chair. He was the founder, President, and 1991 Local Convention Chair of the Baltimore Chapter of The Gesneriad Society. Jim is currently President of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society and is also the Chair of NCAC’s 2011 show. He has won numerous show awards, including Best in Show for an Ornithoboea arachnoidea. He says about growing gesneriads: "I like them all," although he particularly likes old world genera such as Chirita, Petrocosmea, and more obscure genera such as Paraboea and Lysionotus. He is currently growing about 500 varieties under lights.

The show and sale are open to all--society members, chapter members, and the public. Check out the speakers schedule, peruse the sales table, or even enter your own plants into the show!