Chocolate Soldier Plant

Grama(z6KY)October 4, 2003

Back in the spring, someone was looking for a Chocolate Soldier Plant and having a diffult time finding one.

I decided to look for a Chocolate Soldier Plant too. After calling many nurseries, greenhouses, florists in a 50 mile radius, I found none. Several told me they could get one for me next spring (a year later?) I'm not that patient!

I called a friend that use to have one, she called several more friends and 2 months later, I have my own Chocolate Soldier Plant.

The point is for the person/people who were looking for the plant, if they have not found it, call a friend that raises houseplants and maybe they can help like my friend did and good luck!

Grama

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ddiverblue(Z9 AZ)

Hi Grama, it isn't often in the nurseries, but you are right that houseplant lovers often grow it. I've also seen several of them offered for sale on eBay. I'm glad you finally got your plant. Aren't they wonderful!?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2003 at 2:33AM
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Grama(z6KY)

Thanks for your concern. You know, until I found this website, I thought Chocolate Soldier was in the African Violet family.
I learn something everyday.
I really do enjoy this website and the people of knowledge.
Grama

    Bookmark   October 5, 2003 at 8:30AM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

Whoa, there Grama :) This is the family of the African Violet. African violets are gesneriads! Its just that they have these flat appearing flowers while most of the rest of the family has the more familiar slipper shape. Actually the closest genus to the AV is streptocarpella, followed by the big leaved streptocarpus.

There are two plant societies that share this family, AVSA and AGGS. The first is the African Violet Society of America, and their focus is mainly on African violets but with an interest in other gesneriads. AGGS is the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society, and their focus is on all the other gesneriads but with an interest in AV's too. AVSA is a much bigger organization but we AGGS'ers know we are s the most fun group in the plant world.

Other gesneriads besides episcias include, columnea, nematanthus (goldfish), aeschynanthus (lipstick), chirita, petrocosmea, achimenes, kohleria, and many many more.

Just so we are all on the same page: true violets are not related to African violets. We often talk about our violets when we mean our African Violets. It gets kind of cumbersome to write out the full name all the time.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2003 at 3:41PM
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calla_lady(Z8b N. Calif)

O.K. I am confused, what is a chocolate soldier plant (latin name)? Oddly enough I saw a plant being offered on ebay just today as a "Chocolate Plant", and was wondering about it. Now I am curious if it is the above Chocolate Soldier.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2003 at 2:17AM
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AuntieCelene

It will be Episcia cupreata if it's a Chocolate Soldier plant. Chocolate Soldier is one variety of episcia, there are hundreds with different leaves, blooms, etc.

HTH,

Celene

    Bookmark   October 8, 2003 at 11:01AM
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calla_lady(Z8b N. Calif)

Gotcha, thanks for clearing that up, the plant that I saw was definitely not an episcia. Alicia

    Bookmark   October 8, 2003 at 12:35PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

'Chocolate Soldier' is a cultivar of Episca cupreata as mentioned above. But the common name Chocolate Soldier has been used for about 30 years as a generic name for episcias. How this cultivar became a common name, I don't know. I suspect that the original cv. was, back in the 60's being grown commercially and the name gradually became confused with other episcias. The true cultivar has chocolate brown leaves with a wide silver patch down the center of the leaves, and only slight silver spreading into the veins. Mostly what we see as a generic episcia with silver, brown, and green leaves with a wide silver patch, and some silver netting is 'Acajou'.

The chocolate plant you saw could be anything??? Sometimes it is used for a cosmos with a chocolate scented flower.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2003 at 3:27PM
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gessiegirl(z7AR)

Jon, would you tell us more about episcea genealogy, like give us a mini-study on the different episcea species and some of the various cultivars that have been hybridized from them?

Also, while you're at it, I bought an Episcea labeled 'Chocolate Warrior' at the Volunteer State AV Council show/sale a couple of weeks ago. I'm figuring my episcea is an off-shoot of Chocolate Soldier. I believe it came from Rob's, but it's not in their website catalogue. Know anything about it?
Thanks, Betty

    Bookmark   October 10, 2003 at 6:51PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

I looked up 'Chocolate Warrior' in the Episcia register but it wasn't there. That could mean that it came out since publication, which was 1993. The name rings a bell somehow. I may have seen it on Ebay. I did a search of the plants for "episcia" and then bookmarked my search, so I can repeat it every few days or so, just to see what people are growing and offering. It is a good way to see what cultivars look like.

Ok: the entire history of episcias in six volumes:

The main species in our typical orange/red flower types is cupreata. It has been collected from places from Panama to Peru, but at low elevations. Some of the collected forms are quite nice to grow. I have 'Santa Marta', which grows fast and has nice brown and silvery green leaves. So, many of the hybrids are bred from pure cupreata types.

But closely related to cupreata is reptans. It is rarely seen, has a dark green leaf with a silver pine tree pattern down the middle, and has longer flowers that are red with a white throat. I may have it or an old hybrid between it and cupreata. No one has used this species in breeding since the 50's-60's. I like its flowers. The old books use the name x variablis for crosses of cupreata x reptans. But, this name isn't used much anymore. E. 'Filigree' is an old cross of this type.

E. lilacina is the other main species. It likes more humidity, and when combined with warmth and regular fertilizing it will flower with big pale lilac flowers. It comes in a number of natural forms--'Selby's Best', 'Chocolate Velour', Costa Rica forms, 'Panama White', and some pure lilacina hybrids like 'Blue Nile', 'Shaw Garden', etc. When it is crossed with cupreata types you get the pink flowered hybrids. They are sterile supposedly. There are about a dozen pink types out there, like "Pink Panther', 'Burning Embers', 'Ember Lace', 'Lemon Lime'. They grow about as easily as cupreata types though they may like more humidity. I think when they are happy they can make larger flowers.

There are a few other species like fimbriata 'Blue Heaven'. This species also comes in another form, less commonly seen, called 'Dudley's Silver', with a silver streak down the midrib. This species likes high humidity but does well on a light stand, as does lilacina. Another species, even less common is sphalera, with smaller green bubbly leaves and rare white flowers. There might be a few other rare species, not in cultivation. Some species have been transferred from episcia to nautilocalyx and alsobia, two genera closely related to episcia. No interbreeding though, as far as I know.

The episcia register is a publication of AGGS. It costs around $5, with a paper cover and 65+ pages. I find it very useful as it has descriptions of the cultivars and some information such as when they were first introduced or listed in catalogs.

The variegated episcas do not breed their variegation, but breed like their original non-variegated forms. Back in the late 60's and early 70's people used 'Cleopatra' in crosses to get variegation. Instead they got regular episcias in silvery green, with brown tones. But, quite a few turned out to be popular and are still being grown--'Grey Lady', 'Helen O'' etc. The other parent of 'Helen O'' is another old one, 'Antique Velvet'. You can actually see the relationship in these two.

Most hybrids aren't supplied with parentage so we really don't know too much about what varieties led to what. There are few dwarfs and they seem to arise out of general breeding (sometimes the runts make the best varieties) ratherr than a specific attempt to breed down through generations of smaller growers.

Most of the hybridizing went on in the 60's and 70's, tapering off in the 80's. Not too much has come out since the register was updated in 93. Lately a few people have gotten back into breeding--Vincent Parson's, Leslie Cox, and I've named a few plants. I think we will be seeing lots of new varieties coming out in the next few years as they get their plants out and propagated. The pinks were probably bred from the mid 50's through the late 70's, mostly by people in Florida, where lilacina can be flowered more easily. Meanwhile many of the varieties described in the register are probably extinct. They get lost if no commercial source is there to replenish the supply.

Marcia Belisle lists about 130 in her catalog--the largest listing that I know of. A couple people in the society have big collections. I think Leslie has around 200 kinds.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2003 at 1:18PM
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gessiegirl(z7AR)

Jon, your Reader's Digest version of the history of episceas was exactly what I was hoping for. Man! you know some stuff!! Terima kasih banyak. (Indonesian and Malay for 'A lot of thanks.')

The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory of the Oklahoma City Botanical Gardens has masses of beautiful episceas labeled "episcea cupreata." My guess is that this is the species, not one of the cupreata hybrids. Is that probably right? I see that my lilacina is a species, not a hybrid as I thought and that my new Blue Nile is just a gussied up lilacina. No wonder they favor. As much as I like episceas, I'll order the registry. Better yet, I'll put it on my Christmas hint list. I'll probably remember some of the old extinct hybrids from the 60s when my mom grew them.

Betty

    Bookmark   October 11, 2003 at 3:47PM
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sgcvn69(6a/Pittsburgh)

someone gave me a cutting of chocolate soldier awhile ago. i thought it was a drabby color and either gave it away or killed it lol

    Bookmark   October 17, 2003 at 11:25AM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

The cupreatas at the OK bot garden could be naturally collected forms or just hybrids labeled with the species designation because they either thought that was more "scholarly" or because they got them without cultivar names. Actually, we have no idea with typical cupreata type hybrids whether they have some reptans in them. These two species are closely related and reptans was used back in the 50's and 60's in some of the early popular hybrids. I have a plant I think is reptans but it might just be a hybrid of reptans. E. lilacina 'Blue Nile' is technically a hybrid, though it is a cross made within the species. Its parents are E. lilacina 'Viridis' x E. lilacina 'Mrs. Fanny Haage" But, it was determined that this second variety (Fanny Haage) is actually the original form of the species, which is called E. lilacina v. lilacina. So, basically I am giving you a lot of rather technical and trivial information.

The various gesneriad registers are all available from the AGGS website and are very inexpensive. I think they generally are all about $5 each. They have paper covers and few illustrations but lots of information, since basically they were written with the intent of describing every known named cultivar. The information in them was gleaned from articles, books and most commonly from various catalogs. They also list the species ( I had forgotten to mention xantha, a yellow flowered species that needs terrarium conditions).

'Chocolate Soldier' or any cultivar can look "drabby colored" or it can look "fabulous". It really depends on culture. These plants are so fast moving (growing, dying etc.) that they change with the moment. When grown under lights in good fresh mix with a young plant they will often grow into beauties. The leaves will attain better richer coloring and will actually have a sheen or glow to them. The same plant in less ideal conditions can look kind of dreary. A plant that looks great one day can go into decline and need repottings or restarting. So, what can I say, I love them, I grow them well, I kill them all the time.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2003 at 3:40PM
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carol23_gw

'Chocolate Soldier' has been used for cultivar names in Aquilegia, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Episcia. It is also a common name for Pseuderanthemum alatum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pseuderanthemum alatum

    Bookmark   October 18, 2003 at 9:11PM
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perlite(z6, southern IN)

Over the past year and a half since I moved here from northern CA, I have picked up a few unnamed Episcia hybrids at local greenhouse growers. One was actually labeled with a cv. name, 'Green Goddess.' Really nice, slightly recurved solid green leaves. It wasn't in bloom when I got it, so I was REALLY PLEASED to see some sweet, pink blossoms come from it. (I'm, uh, not a big fan of orange...) I put a stolon from that along with the (nearly indestructible) 'Pink Acajou' as a ground cover for a Strelitzia, and they all thrived happily on a patio in our warm, 70 to 90% humidity all summer.
Meanwhile, I brought home another green and slightly silvery one (no label), and it settled into a terrarium environment nicely and began to produce primrose yellow flowers. I haven't matched it to any photos I've found online. The most recent one, also with no label (its grower had no idea even what genus it is, lol) came with a faded blossom that appears to have been blue or purple. It's just a little plant so far, with some chocolatey markings on the leaves, and a single flower bud that's swelling too darn slowly for my taste!
I know that to some extent there are just so many episcia hybrids out there, unnamed, that I've gotten less hung up on knowing their names, if they have them. And cultural differences bring about amazing differences in the appearances of the foliage. But I'm almost hooked. And running out of space!!!
And until recently I just grew Episcias for the snuggly, colorful foliage. ha, ha!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2003 at 10:39PM
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citrus_master

Hi,I have been looking for a good chocolate tree for a while and I am wondering if anybody knows were I can find one online.(Any kind of chocolate tree.)
Can it be a house plant and still put out beans?Also what kind of soil do I need to plant it in and how much light and water dose it take.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 4:38PM
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sherrica(High Mountain Desert)

This thread has been very interesting reading.
I just picked up a 'Chocolate Soldier' plant at the local nursery. There were four different types and I didn't feel flush enough to buy all four.
This one has pale green leaves that have a silver shine with dark chocolate spotting and edging. After reading this I think I'll go back and check to see if all the different types are called by the same name or if they are marked by different names. I was in a hurry, recognized episcias which I hadn't seen at a nursery for some time, so just picked the prettiest and ran.
I actually worked at a nusery 20 years ago that kept pink episcias and had no idea they were any kind of unusual to find.

Sherri

    Bookmark   May 11, 2004 at 11:03AM
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citrus_master

Hi,I have been looking for a good chocolate tree for a while and I am wondering if anybody knows were I can find one online.(Any kind of chocolate tree.)
Can it be a house plant and still put out beans?Also what kind of soil do I need to plant it in and how much light and water dose it take.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2004 at 3:40PM
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sherrica(High Mountain Desert)

I went back and checked the other plants. They are all marked Episcia, chocolate soldier. Bought one with chocalate colored leaves with red veins. Guess I can throw the marker stakes away.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2004 at 4:27PM
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citrus_master

Hi,I have been looking for a good chocolate tree for a while and I am wondering if anybody knows were I can find one online.(Any kind of chocolate tree.)
Can it be a house plant and still put out beans?Also what kind of soil do I need to plant it in and how much light and water dose it take.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2004 at 3:41PM
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maggie99(8)

Hi Jon,

Just wanted to say, that was very interesting reading on the Episcia's. Do you just do this off the top of your head, or do you have to look it all up as I do every time I want info? Hmmmm think I will save the search time and just give you a holler!!! LOL

Happy Growing~~~

Maggie in Newberg, Oregon

    Bookmark   May 12, 2004 at 9:17PM
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citrus_master

This is a plant message board not a chat room.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2004 at 3:44PM
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citrus_master

Hi,I have been looking for a good chocolate tree for a while and I am wondering if anybody knows were I can find one online.(Any kind of chocolate tree.)
Can it be a house plant and still put out beans?Also what kind of soil do I need to plant it in and how much light and water dose it take.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2004 at 3:47PM
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mwedzi(chicago)

citrus master, this is a message board, but we are still friendly enough to tell each other we appreciate each other's posts.

i think you have to ask on another forum. cacao trees are not related to gesneriads, and this forum is gesneriad-specific.

sherrica, there is only one "chocolate soldier", as far as i know. chocolate soldier is a specific variety of the genus episcia. here is a description to help you identify: a robust variety with leaves of dark chocolate having a silver grey center band..orange scarlet flowers periodically..trailing habit with plantlets

hth

    Bookmark   May 15, 2004 at 11:37PM
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mwedzi(chicago)

citrus master, this forum is specific to gesneriads, which are not related to chocolate trees at all. you would get a helpful answer if you asked on another forum.

sherrica, there is only one variety that is chocolate soldier. it is one specific variety of the genus episcia.

hth

    Bookmark   May 16, 2004 at 7:33AM
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citrus_master

Sorry

    Bookmark   May 16, 2004 at 9:46AM
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sherrica(High Mountain Desert)

Thank You hth,

When I found the first one I thought maybe I had found THE chocolate soldier. After realizing all episcias at this nursery were marked chocolate soldier I removed labels and will be happy with two very pretty epicias of unknown names.

Sherrica

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 9:25PM
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wezey(z6 AR)

I have a Chocloate Soldier and it is pale green. Can you tell me how to get the bright green color of others I have seen? Also the best way to care for it (west window is where I have it). I water from the bottom and have it in partial afternoon sun in the window. Thanks

    Bookmark   May 27, 2004 at 8:53PM
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rosebud5548(NE6MA)

Hi I've been looking for a chocolate soldier for a long time . I use to have some many years ago when I was in an african violet group . I just found a nursery that has many Episcia's and many other plants that I've fallen in love with . I plan to order some tomorrow . I've read all the posts and found the information very interesting . I made notes . I learned from a elderly Lady how to care and grow african violets and Episcia's . If the plants start to die she would take cutting fast to grow new plants from it . She had everything down to a science and she made new plants . She won many shows with her plants . I can't wait to have some again . Rosebud

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 10:16PM
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county_girl

Hi my Mother has this episcia and has had it for at least 6 years when she bought it the tag on it said episcia choclate soilder, now all I ever see is a green leaf called choclate soilder., I dont undderstand the what happen to the good old choclate soilder.,

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 11:49AM
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JeanFineran

I bought this plant at Walmart this spring. It was labeled Chocolate Soldier. Also bought one at Lowe's labeled Brown Soldier, both the same plant. New growth sprout from the edges of leaves laid out on potting soil. They seem to be awfully fragile and I have killed three of the four plants I bought and am having trouble getting the pups to grow to any size. Looked up Episcia Cupreata on Google and none of the plants pictured look like this. My plant has fuzzy pale green leaves with tinges of brown on the edges. What do I have and how do I care for it?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 1:31PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

It is something succulent - probably from Crassulaceae family - relative of Kalanchoe. Needs bright light, well draining soil and very moderate watering. Your is definitely too wet and the soil is peaty - while it needs to be more sandy - I think you can get small a bag of soil for succulents and cacti in a store.

Ask guys in succulent forum - they will give you more details.

Latin names are unique... common names are not. And sometimes for the marketing purposes the name these guys come with... is very misleading.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:09PM
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phfurballs(5b)

Terrific little history of these lovely plants, I enjoyed that.
My Mom grew an episcia, her's came labeled Chocolate Soldier, for many years. Green leaf, chocolate edges, silver centre. She used to water with weak fertilizer every time and her episcia bloomed almost non stop year round, in a southwest oriented bay window. She'd root plantlets and added them to the pot to refresh it from time to time, when it started to look a bit battered. It was a cheery sight in her window, especially in winter.

I had trouble keeping the plantlets I took going, until I started keeping aquariums again. The fish & shrimp tank water that's removed with weekly water changes is loaded with nitrates, among many other things plants like. I use it to water most of my plants. Once I started using fish water, my episcia plantlets took off, growing like weeds. New leaves were so much larger than the old ones, even the flowers were a bit larger than before.

Now I have 3 different ones, one has very large flowers, pink with a yellow throat and fringed petals. I am always looking for new ones when I wander through nurseries. They're not all that common to see, which is a shame.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 9:09PM
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gregsytch(z9b Tampa Bay)

'Chocolate Soldier' is a pseudonym given to all Episcias from years back. There was actually a hybrid called 'Chocolate Soldier' that was quite popular. Episcias all require warmth (above 55F at all times), rather humid conditions, and medium light. They are excellent contained (terrarium-type) plants. There are hundreds of new hybrids now. Mail order or EBay are excellent sources. Do a Google search and many growers will show up.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 6:24PM
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partybra(12b Hawaii)

Is the 'Chocolate Cream' Episcia sold by Violet Barn related to 'Chocolate Soldier'?- I wonder if it is an 'improved' cultivar. Here is a picture of the 'Chocolate Cream' Episcia:

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 1:23AM
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