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A Brief History of the African Violet

African violets, Saintpaulias, are members of the Gesneriad plant family. They are not related to true violets but were thus named because they came from Africa and bear a flower resembling the violet.

The first of the species was discovered by Baron Walter von Saint Paul Illiare in 1892 just south of the equator in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, East Africa. Since that time, 20 different species have been found, each growing in its own Microclimate in a distinct geographic region in northern Tanzania or southern Kenya. To this day, African violets are only native to this small area of the world.

All of the Saintpaulia species have small single, violet-shaped flowers in various shades of blue. The leaves tend to be round or heart-shaped and are thin and fragile looking compared to the fleshy hybrids of today. Some types grow in the familiar rosette shape while others are multiple-crowned or trailing as they cascade down hillsides.

From these species, hybridizers have bred over 10,000 varieties of African Violets in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes and colors.

Come to a meeting of the African Violet Society of Philadelphia and find out more about these wonderful houseplants.
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African Violet Society of Philadelphia

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