Gesneriad Research Center

The GRC is the center in North America for botanical research on the plant family Gesneriaceae. The mission of the GRC is to increase and diffuse knowledge of the flowering plant family Gesneriaceae through exploration, research, professional collaborations, and education, and to facilitate conservation initiatives that benefit gesneriads and the tropical ecosystems where they occur.

Formally recognized as the plant family Gesneriaceae in 1816, gesneriads have captured the attention of botanists, explorers, and plant enthusiasts for centuries. Gesneriads are often quite striking with a wide range of growth forms, flower colors, and fruit types. They are significant ecologically for their pollinators and seed dispersal interactions as well as for their adaptations to specialized habits such as epiphytism.  Gesneriads comprise a major portion of diversity in tropical forests, and many are exceptional horticultural subjects.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (est. 1973) has been involved with gesneriad research since its inception, as is evident from the Gardens’ official seal that illustrates a bromeliad, an orchid, and a gesneriad. Dr. Hans Wiehler was the driving force behind Selby’s early gesneriad program, helping to build the living and preserved collections during his tenure there. In 2002, Wiehler donated the several thousand herbarium specimens, liquid-preserved specimens and other resources of the Gesneriad Research Foundation (GRF) to Selby Gardens. A dedicated gesneriad research program was established to curate, manage and utilize the newly acquired gesneriad resources at Selby Gardens and to further the legacy established by Dr. Wiehler.