• U. EggliEmail author
  • E. J. Gouda
Living reference work entry
Part of the Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants book series (SUCCPLANTS)


A diagnostic description of the genus is given with special emphasis on the occurrence of succulence amongst its species. The geographical distribution is outlined, together with a selection of important literature, and an explanation of the etymology of the name. This is followed by a short summary of its position in the phylogeny of the family and of the past and present classification in a phylogenetic context. The succulent features present amongst the species of the genus are shortly explained as to morphology and anatomy.

This is followed by a synoptical treatment of the succulent species of the genus, complete with typification details, full synonymy, geographical and ecological data, a diagnostic description, and, where applicable, notes on phylogenetic placement and relationships, as well as economic and/or horticultural importance.

Sincoraea Ule (Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 42: 191, 1909). Type: Sincoraea amoena Ule [typification by inference; this is the only taxon included in the genus]. — BromelioideaeLit: Louzada & Wanderley (2010: monograph, as Orthophytum); Louzada & Wanderley (2017: synopsis, key). Distr: E Brazil (Bahia, Minas Gerais: mostly Serra do Espinhaço Range).

Perennial terrestrial saxicolous rosette plants, stoloniferous; Ros sessile or at most with a short stem covered by leaf sheaths; L tightly congested, (very) numerous, straight, arching or somewhat falcate, sheaths imbricate, distinct from the lamina, triangular, lepidote to glabrous, serrate, L lamina linear-triangular to narrowly triangular, (sub-) coriaceous to stiffly succulent, flat or canaliculate, (sparsely) lepidote on both faces or rarely adaxially glabrous, apex often a pungent spine, margins serrate with laxly to densely arranged spines; Inf sessile, simple or compound, inner rosette leaves and peduncular bracts becoming bright pink or red or red with a white or green base at the start of flowering and changing again to green or grey-green after anthesis; peduncular Bra gradually diminishing in size, outer similar to the foliage leaves; floral Bra green or red, with pungent tip and serrate to serrulate margins; Fl sessile, hermaphrodite; Sep free, (sub-) erect, asymmetrical (rarely symmetrical), acute, acuminate, mucronate, with glandular trichomes (except S. hatschbachii); Pet free or forming an epigynous tube, suberect or upper parts spreading, white or greenish, 3–4.8 × longer than wide, spatulate, obtuse, with 2 callosities laterally to the filaments, appendages sacciform, lacerate or digitate; St included; Fil filiform, unequal, outer free, inner adnate to the petals; Anth dorsifixed, obtuse; Ov inferior; Sty long-filiform; Sti ± erect, 3-parted; Fr ovoid capsules with persistent sepals, 5–10 × 6–8 mm, greenish or white; Se ovate, striate, 1–2 × 0.6–1.5 mm, 30–100 per fruit.

Sincoraea numbers 11 species, many of them ± distinctly succulent. Until recently, the taxa here classified were treated as part of Orthophytum s.l. The widely circumscribed Orthophytum was found to be polyphyletic in several recent molecular studies (Louzada & al. 2014, Silvestro & al. 2014, Evans & al. 2015, Leme & al. 2017), where the “amoenum clade” (i.e. the species now segregated as Sincoraea) was found as sister to Lapanthus (not considered to include succulents), Cryptanthus and Orthophytum s.s. (see there for a fuller discussion). Recognizing the “amoenum clade” at generic level was first proposed in the unpublished thesis of Louzada (2012).

Sincoraea differs from Orthophytum s.s. in its acaulescent rosettes with sessile, congested, simple or compound inflorescences, and consistently white flowers. At flowering time, Sincoraea species are notable for the highly coloured (red, pink, in some species with white or green base) inner rosette leaves and peduncular bracts, and the rosette as a whole can be regarded as a highly conspicuous pseudanthium. The colouration largely disappears again after anthesis is completed.

Succulence: Many taxa grow in xeric habitats, often in association with cacti and other succulents. Horres & Zizka (1995) found a degree of succulence similar to that of many bona-fide succulents in S. burle-marxii. This and other succulent species have thickly fleshy, rigid leaves with considerable amounts of water storage tissue, while the other species have ± coriaceous to leathery leaves. Succulence is very much a matter of degree, and only the most succulent taxa are covered in this handbook.

Horticulture: Species of Sincoraea are only occasionally seen in cultivation. They easily grow in collections of succulents and xerophytes, and offer a spectacular sight when flowering, but are rather uninteresting otherwise. The flowers are diurnal. Individual flowers last only a single day, but flowering of an inflorescence extends over 2–3 weeks (Herndon 2018: for the non-succulent S. heleniceae).

The following intergeneric hybrids have been obtained in cultivation (the respective nothogeneric names still reflect their traditional classification as Orthophytum): Sincoraea × Aechmea = ×Orthomea, Sincoraea × Neoglaziovia = ×Orthoglaziovia, Sincoraea × Neoregelia = ×Neophytum, and Sincoraea × Cryptanthus = ×Orthotanthus (see separate entries for all of them in this handbook).

S. albopicta (Philcox) Louzada & Wanderley (J. Bromeliad Soc. 66(1): 10, ill. (p. 11), 2017). Type: Brazil, Bahia (Storr 122 [CEPEC, K]). — Lit: Louzada & Wanderley (2010: 3–5, 14, with ills., as Orthophytum). Distr: E Brazil (Bahia: Chapada Diamantina: Mucugé, Andaraí); rock outcrops in grassland of Campo Rupestre vegetation, 700–1500 m. – Fig. 1.
Fig. 1

Sincoraea albopicta (Eggli 1249: Brazil; Bahia, near Mucugé). (Copyright: U. Eggli)

Orthophytum albopictum Philcox (1985).

Ros acaulescent or with a stem to 3 × 2.5–3.5 cm, offsetting with short stolons; L numerous, flatly spreading or slightly arched, coriaceous, sheaths broadly triangular, 0.6–3 × 1.1–3.2 cm, both faces glabrous or lepidote abaxially near the tip, margins serrate, L lamina linear-triangular, 8–24 × 0.8–2 cm, flat, green to greenish-red, basal part red at flowering time and adaxially with a white-lanate base, otherwise adaxially glabrous, abaxially densely lepidote, margins sublaxly serrate, Sp antrorse, 0.4–1.2 (−2) mm; Inf sessile, compound and head-like, many-flowered; primary Bra deltoid-lanceolate, 1.7–3.8 × 1.6–1.7 cm, the outer transitional to the inner rosette leaves and red with white-lanate base, the inner entirely white-lanate, all with serrate margins; floral Bra triangular, ± 15 × 10 mm, mucronulate, asymmetrical, ecarinate, green, lepidote, serrate; Fl tubular with slightly spreading limb; Sep narrowly triangular, ± 12–14 × 4–5 mm, mucronulate, asymmetrical, green, carinate, lepidote, entire; Pet linear-spatulate, ± 18 × 4 mm, obtuse, white, basally with simple hairs, with 2 lacerate sacciform appendages ± 6 mm above the base, and with 2 conspicuous elongate callosities; outer Fil 9 mm, inner 3 mm; Anth 4 mm, yellow, not apiculate; Ov trigonous; Sty ± 1.3 mm; Fr and Se unknown.

S. burle-marxii (L. B. Smith & Read) Louzada & Wanderley (J. Bromeliad Soc. 66(1): 10, ill. (p. 11), 2017). Type: Brazil, Bahia (Burle-Marx s.n. in Bogner 1311 [US]). — Lit: Louzada & Wanderley (2010: 7–9, 14, with ills., as Orthophytum). Distr: E Brazil (Bahia: Lençóis, Morro do Chapéu); rocky outcrops in grassland, usually in full sun, 900–1400 m. I: Braun & Esteves Pereira (2006: 161); Roguenant & al. (2016: 609); both as Orthophytum; Moonen (2018). – Fig. 2.
Fig. 2

Sincoraea burle-marxii (Supthut 8935: Brazil; Bahia, near Andaraí). (Copyright: U. Eggli)

Orthophytum burle-marxii L. B. Smith & Read (1979); incl. Orthophytum burle-marxii var. seabrae Rauh (1985); incl. Orthophytum roseum Leme (2010).

Ros acaulescent, stoloniferous, with short stems to 2.5 × 4 cm; L numerous, flatly spreading or arching, sheath broadly triangular or ovate-triangular, 1–3 × 1–4 cm, white-greenish, glabrous or rarely sparsely lepidote, serrate, L lamina linear-triangular, 12.8–53 × 1.5–2.5 cm, attenuate, strongly coriaceous, red or green, cinereous, adaxially lepidote except the glabrous base, abaxially densely lepidote, margins serrate, Sp antrorse, 1–2 mm; Inf sessile, compound and head-like; outer primary Bra transitional to the inner rosette leaves that become red-flushed during flowering time, the inner triangular or triangular-lanceolate, 2.2–5.5 × 1–6 cm, red, coriaceous, sparsely lepidote, serrate; floral Bra some rudimentary, otherwise triangular, 14–48 × 8–37 mm, mucronulate, subcoriaceous, red, ecarinate, glabrous, serrate; Fl tubular with slightly spreading limb, with an epigynous tube ± 2 mm long; Sep narrowly triangular, 20 × 4–6 mm, acuminate or mucronulate, asymmetrical, red, carinate, sparsely lepidote, entire; Pet linear-spatulate, 18–25 × 6 mm, subacute, white, glabrous, with 2 sacciform lacerate appendages ± 7 mm above the base and conspicuous oblong callosities; outer Fil ± 14 mm, inner Fil ± 0.5 mm; Anth ± 4.5 mm, yellow; Ov trigonous, not further described; Fr and Se unknown.

Similar to the non-succulent S. heleniceae with hardly thickened leaves and a green-coloured zone around the inflorecence (vs. red in S. burle-marxii).

S. hatschbachii (Leme) Louzada & Wanderley (J. Bromeliad Soc. 66(1): 13, ill. (p. 12), 2017). Type: Brazil, Bahia (Hatschbach & Barbosa 56,827 [MBM]). — Lit: Louzada & Wanderley (2010: 9–10, 14, with ills., as Orthophytum). Distr: E Brazil (Bahia: Abaíra, Rio de Contas); rock outcrops, in full sun or in the shade near streams, 1300 m.

Orthophytum hatschbachii Leme (1995).

Ros subacaulescent, stem to 3–4.2 × 3 cm, stoloniferous; L ± 30, horizontally spreading, sheaths broadly triangular to broadly ovate, 0.5–3 × 0.8–4 cm, greenish-white, glabrous, serrate, L lamina linear-triangular, 6.5–33 × 0.7–1.8 cm, stiffly coriaceous, slightly canaliculate, red with greenish-white base, adaxially glabrous or lepidote, abaxially sparsely lepidote, margins strongly serrate, Sp straight to antrorse, (1.7–) 2–3.5 mm, ± 15 mm apart; Inf sessile, simple, head-like, many-flowered; outer primary Bra transitional to the inner rosette leaves that become red-flushed during flowering time, not further described; floral Bra triangular, 20–25 × 9–23 mm, symmetrical or asymmetrical, coriaceous, green, glabrous, carinate, serrate, rudimentary floral bracts absent; Fl narrowly tubular, with a 2.5 mm long epigynous tube; Sep narrowly ovate, 12 × 3 mm, asymmetrical, mucronulate, green, carinate, glabrous, entire; Pet linear-spatulate, 17 × 4 mm, obtuse, erect, with only the very tips spreading, white, glabrous, with 2 sacciform lacerate appendages 4 mm above the base and 2 conspicuous callosities; outer Fil ± 10 mm, inner Fil ± 2.5 mm and adnate to the petals; Anth 3 mm, yellow, apiculate; Ov trigonous; Sty 10 mm; Fr and Se unknown.

Similar to S. burle-marxii and the non-succulent S. heleniceae.

S. navioides (L. B. Smith) Louzada & Wanderley (J. Bromeliad Soc. 66(1): 14, 2017). Type: Brazil, Bahia (Foster & Foster 90 [GH, R, SP, US]). — Lit: Louzada & Wanderley (2010: 17–18, 25, with ills., as Orthophytum). Distr: E Brazil (Bahia: Jacobina); shaded rocks in dry forests.

Cryptanthopsis navioides L. B. Smith (1940) ≡ Orthophytum navioides (L. B. Smith) L. B. Smith (1955).

Ros subacaulescent, stoloniferous, with a short stem ±2 × 1.5 cm; L numerous, flatly spreading or arching, sheath triangular, ± 1 × 1.5 cm, white, glabrous, serrate, L lamina linear-triangular, 8–23 × 0.4–0.7 cm, attenuate, coriaceous, flat or slightly canaliculate, green, innermost reddish, both faces sparsely lepidote, margins serrate, Sp antrorse or retrorse, 1–1.5 mm; Inf sessile, simple and head-like, many-flowered; outer primary Bra transitional to the inner rosette leaves that become red-flushed during flowering time, not further described; floral Bra triangular, ± 20 × 10 mm, subcoriaceous, carinate, lepidote, serrate, rudimentary floral bracts absent; Fl narrowly tubular with spreading limb, with an epigynous tube ± 1.5 mm; Sep narrowly triangular, 20–30 × 5 mm, acuminate, green, with glandular trichomes, carinate, entire; Pet linear-spatulate, 25–30 × 4 mm, subacute, white, glabrous, with 2 sacciform lacerate appendages ± 3 mm above the base and 2 narrowly oblong callosities ± ¾ as long as the filaments; outer Fil ± 20 mm, free part of inner Fil ± 9 mm; Anth yellow, 2–2.3 mm; Ov trigonous; Sty 20 mm; Sti capitate; Fr and Se unknown.

This species is one of the most extreme xerophytes of the genus (Rauh 1990). It shows similarities with the hardly succulent S. mucugensis, which differs by having much shorter leaves and shorter flowers. S. navioides has been successfully crossed with Aechmea (see ×Orthomea) and Cryptanthus (see ×Orthotanthus).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sukkulenten-Sammlung ZürichGrün Stadt ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Curator University Botanic GardensUtrechtNetherlands

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