What is the difference? Goldfish plant....

marguerite_gwJune 26, 2012

Please could someone tell me what is the difference between the goldfish plant that is Nematanthus and the one that is Columnea? Looking up the plant on the web I see both names used. Or are they the same plant under two different names?

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The reason I ask is that I bought a pot with what are basically three rooted cuttings for 1.60 Euro (around 2 US dollars, I think) and the leaves seem to resemble a plant called Goldfish Plant. They were as dry as dust and suffering but I think they are now recovering, having been repotted separately, as you see. First I thought they were hoyas but now I have changed my mind.
The leaves on the variegated cuttings seem slightly longer than those on the green, but perhaps it's an optical illusion.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:30AM
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Hello, Marguerite! I can't really answer your question about the difference other than different common names. I am sure someone can better answer that question. In looking at your picture, I am wondering if the vaiegated plant is a sort of peperomia. Maybe a peperomia virdis variegata? Good luck with the ID!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Hey Marguerite..How ya doing?

I think they're all in the 'Gesneariaceae/Gesneariad Family'
Nemanthus (Gold Fish,) Aeschyanthus is (Lipstick,) Episcias and Columenas. I'm sure there's more, but those are the four that come to mind.

Are leaves fuzzy or glossy?

The variegated plants could pass for Lipsticks.

None look like Gold Fish or Columnea..GF 'usually' have glossy/non-fuzzy leaves, and Columneas leaves are aligned closer together.

They're pretty plants though. What a bargain!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:26PM
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Thanks indeed, April. I know one variegated peperomia, P. clusifolia, I think they call it. Its leaves are much thicker, more leathery than the leaves on this little plant, if they are similar to those on the peperomia you mention.
Hi Toni, how are you doing? The leaves on the green plant are shiny and slightly succulent too. I think at times that I can see almost invisible whitish hairs, in a certain light. The variegated leaves are smooth, also succulent, but not say as thick as those of Peperomia clusifolia nor a jade plant. I feel the leaves are more fragile than that, but then, these little rooted cuttings were in trouble, maybe that would make them more brittle. Perhpas I will have to wait for them to grow a bit and take a picture again.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:22PM
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April, I think you're talking about P. obtusiflia?? Some leaves are green, other variegated.

Marguerite. I'm okay, been very very busy..still repotting, lol.

There's numerous Gesneariads. After replying to your post, I researched. There are soooo many different varieties, some I've never heard, and VERY beautiful..

Yes, you might have to wait for a definate ID. Gold Fish Plants have gold flowers that look like mini gold fish, :)with succulent-like leaves.

Lipsticks have long, tubular, red and orange blooms with shiny and/or fuzzy leaves, so it's hard ID'ing at this point.

Anyway, you found 3 pretty plants. Hope they all do well.

How's your part of the world?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Thanks so much, Toni. Everything here is fine, we are deep in recession, but with plants at the price of the little ones here, it's not a huge problem :) You're right, they were a bargain. Anyway, one thing I can be sure of is that I've never had one of these before.
I hope the birds, dogs etc. are all well.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 2:14PM
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Thanks Marguerite.

Sam, our Mastiff is now in heaven. I miss him so much, but he was old, 'for a Mastiff.' The last week, he couldn't stand, and was in pain. He lost so much weight. From 162 to 140lbs, even though he had an appitite.

Birds are fine, but I'm worried about our oldest Cockatiel, Mystic.
He's over 15-years..I wasn't given a birth certificate, but while looking through old pictures, 'paper, not digital,' I found a picture of Mystic dated 1997. He was 9-10 weeks when I adopted him, but in the picture he was older. Not a baby. So.........

Another worry.

Thanks for asking. Hope all your plants and pets are well. And of course, you and your family..lol.

Since you've never had the plants pictured before, it will be a great experience.
What type of light will they be getting?

The three are very pretty, Margurite.
As for ID'ing, you'll know more once they bloom.
they're nice-looking now...can't wait to see when mature and flowering. Especially variegated.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Thanks Toni. I'm so sorry about Sam. We lost our little Yorkshire Terrier in November, he was 16. He had been blind for the previous two years and had a very bad heart. The vet said if he put him on medication he would have no quality of life. He enjoyed all his days right to the end, loved going out in the car, but he had a terrible digestion so eating was no pleasure for him.
So don't worry too much about Mystic either. As long as they enjoy their lives while they have them, you can't do any more. I often wonder why our pets don't have more of a lifespan close to our own. Though my daughter has a 7 year old tortoise, he has a good chance of living for a while.

Thanks so much for the help with the plants. I'll get another photo as soon as they start to grow, and if they eventually flower, I suppose that will tell us what they are.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:38PM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

I do not believe two variegates are gesneriads. Columnea are often called "Dancing Dophins." Their leaves are not as thick as Aeschynanthus ("Lipstick") or Nematanthus ("Goldfish").


    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:50PM
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Thanks for the input, Linda. I think it's just a question of waiting and seeing.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 7:40PM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

You're welcome, Marguerite. I grow columnea and chiritas (now called primulina) and these don't look like anything I've every had and I've had a kazillion. :-)


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Marguerite. I too am sorry about your Yorkshire Terrier.

Your poor guy was in a bad way. It's very difficult making decisions when it comes to our pets' health.

Actually, there are pets that can live as long or longer than their people
Parrots. lol. Some live as long as 70 years.

Parrots, 'from Parakeet to Macaw,' are very intelligent and in most cases, great companions.

But, the're a LOT of work and very expensive...one needs a ton of patience when training, and constant cleaning, since they toss seeds, veggies and fruits as high as the ceiling. lol.

Linda, I don't understand what you mean about Columneas. There's 200 species. They have different shapes, thin and thick-leaves and growing patterns. Some are vines, others shrubs.

Please explain about Dancing Dolphins...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:22AM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)


I agree: 'Til or if they flower, who knows? :-) Whatever they are, they look very nice.

Here's the go-to answer on how to distinguish Columnea and Aeschynanthus. Also, Columnea leaves alternate whereas Aeschynanthus are opposite each other. I think Toni asked me this question some time ago and I forgot to answer. Sorry. :-(


There's an interesting thread on the Gesneriad Forum from 2005 about sellers giving cutsey names to plants instead of the scientific one...and how confusing it can be. You can find it by searching "Dancing dolphin."


Here is a link that might be useful: Great Gesneriad Web Site

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 3:52AM
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Hi, Maybe I can help you with this question. Nemathanthus leaves are very smooth and shiny and small. I do not have a picture of the Columnea gloriosa (goldfish)their leaves are larger and very fuzzy. Their flowers are almost identical but their leaves are how I tell them apart. If you google them there may be a better picture of both. They make a lovely houseplant and take very little care. The picture is of one of my stock plants Genus: Nematanthus , species: wettsteinii. I hope this helps you. I do not know the name of the plant you posted. Sorry. JB

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 4:05PM
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The picture did not show up in the post it was intended for. I am trying to help you see the difference in the leaves. This is a picture of the Nematanthus weittsteinii. They are very smooth and shiny. NOT fuzzy. JB

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 4:10PM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)


You have a very lovely plant.

I'm sorry to correct you, but Columnea and Nematanthus flowers are nothing alike. Below is a link to a photo of Columnea gloriosa. And it's Nematanthus wettsteinii (not "weittsteinii). I'm sure the person who sold you the plant mislabeled it. This is an excellent site; I use it to double-check spelling on all my Gessies.


Here is a link that might be useful: Columnea gloriosa

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Thanks to you all, April, Toni, Linda, stonesriver, barndog, for the helpful answers. In a few weeks I'll post another pic just for its curiosity value, and maybe someone might have an idea or two then as well.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:16PM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

Hi, Marguerite:

Fun trying to figure it out, isn't it? It took me almost a year to id a rhizo Begonia. So many of the cultivars were so similar to my untrained eye.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Actually, you are right, Linda. When you've grown a lot of house plants you almost never come across one in an ordinary store that you don't know, so it is fun, very intriguing.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Hi all,

I found this old post, and it seems that the plants are Peperomia scandens and its variegated variety.

Sorry, I tried to post the link but it comes up as an error because the image was posted before on another thread. I'll try and find the thread again and post the link to it, and the first reply to the poster shows the pic.

Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:02PM
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    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Sorry, here is the link:

Here is a link that might be useful: houseplant id

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 5:11PM
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