Briggsia longipes - plant of the month Dec 2011
Consisting of around 22 species of herbaceous perennials, the genus Briggsia is a member of the family Gesneriaceae and is native to the Himalayas, China and Vietnam; China being the centre of distribution where 21 species can be found.
Briggsia longipes can be found on damp rocks and crevices in Guangxi (Longlin Xian) and SE Yunnan at up to1800 m where occasional frosts are not uncommon in winter.
Briggsia longipes is a fairly distinct species with its thick, peltate ( where the leaf stalk is attached to the underside of the leaf away from the edge rather than at its margin) glabrous leaves ; only B. mihieri is similar. (though description differ from Hookers icones as Didissandra longipes (Hems) to the more recent Flora of China).
Cultivation in a frost-free alpine house is recommended though plants have survived freezing conditions prior to the winter of 2010/11 in an unheated alpine house. The root system is best described as a rhizome covered in thin, brittle roots so a fairly open compost is preferrable - equal parts fine bark, gritty sand and/or perlite and multi purpose compost works well.
Protect from direct sunlight and water sparingly, only when the leaves start to appear 'flabby' to the touch and barely at all during the late winter months after flowering.