Streptocarpus are a member of the family Gesneriaceae. They are in a family of over 100 genera....with more than 2000 species. There are a few that are hardy and semi-hardy but most are tropical. The Family is characterized by having a zygomorphic flower (symmetrical by only one plane bilaterally).
There are however a few exceptions to the rule in a few cultivated gesneriads, where the flowers have become peloric or tubular with the 5 equal "lips".
The Family was named after Konrad Gesner a Swiss scholar who lived before these plants were even discovered.
Streptocarpus is one of eight genera of gesneriads found in Africa.
Streptocarpus are divided into two main subgenus. Streptocarpella (stemmed) and Streptocarpus (Rosulate, Unifoliate, Plurifoliate).
The name Streptocarpus come from the greek words (streptos = twisted, carpus = fruit) referring to the fact that a streptocarpus seed pod forms in a spiral. You can actually see this happen if closely watching a seedpod form. It then splits along this line to spread its seed.
The basic structure of the Stereptocarpus is called phyllomorph. When the seed geminates it has a set of or two cotyledons, or seed leaves, and a taproot. As the plant matures only one of these cotyledons continue to grow and become the leaf while the other withers away. The plant then forms fibrous roots and the tap root withers away as well. There fore you get a small plant consisting of a petiole (leaf stalk) and lamina (leaf blade).
The plants of the subgenus Streptocarpus can develop in one of four ways. I am only going to cover the rosulate streptocarpus as this is the one I am basing my site on. The bases of the petiolodes join to form a stock that may grow vertically or horizontally. This is the group that our modern hybrids belong to.
These rosulate streps develop a number of inflorescence (flower stalks) then die, while new ones develop. The stock is capable of spreading slowly along the ground. This is how our plants become 'many' different plants in the same pot over time.
'Streptocarpus' by Rex Dibley as Reference.