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Friday, 13 February 2015

Saintpaulia - African Violets

African violets, Saintpaulia were perhaps the first plants that I was fascinated with. There is this picture of me at around four or five holding one and beaming ecstatically. Strangely in the past whenever I tried growing them they only lasted a few weeks before dying either from over watering or lack of watering. Due to this I considered it one of the few plants that I could not grow which is weird since they are supposed to be easy to care for. Although I have heard from some people that many people are unable to keep them alive for longer than their flowering period.

So I have been quite delight that my streak of bad luck with African Violets appears to have ended. I bought one (above) several months ago and after it survived several weeks I bought three more. I was hoping to get more colours because I wanted to be able to show the wide range of colours and shapes of these beautiful plants. Here (below) are the four plants that I got.
Since then two have grown significantly. Last week I transplanted those two into bigger pots and have been contemplating transplanting the other two even though their size does not really justify that. I am also going to see if I can propagate some from leaf cuttings, with the intention of doing a post on that since I have not done any propagation posts for a while.

I still hope to be able to get some more colours eventually. However, I may end up simply asking if I can take some photos since my room is kind of running out of space to put plants, and with fussy plants I have come to the conclusion that once I have found a place that a plant likes I should just leave it where it is happy.

Close up of Saintpaulia, showing fine hair on leaf stalks
I also find that if there is the likelihood of others interacting with the plants they tend to die or suffer although this is more due to accidental, unconscious actions and even well meaning acts that are detrimental so depending on where I am living that can limit what I can have and where I can place my plants. For example I have been thinking of putting some of my plants in the living-room/kitchen but am waiting for spring when I will be sure that use of the heaters will have ended since the heaters are under the windows and the only suitable place to place the plants, not to mention being out of the way from people accidentally bumping them or stepping on them if I put them on the floor.
Close up of Saintpaulia flowers and flowerbuds
Among the colours I'm hoping to find are white, pink and some doubles as well as yellow which I was told does not exist although I have seen yellow cultivars advertised on some sites and collections. That appears to be either new and/or rare.

Binomial Name: Saintpaulia
Common names: African Violet (English); Kaaps violtje (Dutch); Violette Africaine, Violette du Cap (French); Usambraveilchen (German); violetta africana (Italian); Violeta africana (Spanish); (Samoan); 

Echte Usambaraveilchen

Taxonomic hierarchy: 

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae – Green plants
Infrakingdom: Streptophyta – Land plants
Superdivision: Embryophytea – 
Division: Tracheophyta – Vascular plants, tracheophytes
Subdivision: Spermatophytina – Spermatophytes (seed plants)
Infradivision: Angiospermae – Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida – Diocotyledons
Superorder: Asteranae – Asterids
Order: Lamiales –
Family: Gesneriaceae – 
Genus: Saintpaulia – 
Species: Saintpaulia inonatha, Saintpaulia rupicola, Saintpaulia brevipilosa

  • I am using the taxonomical classification system used by ITIS (Intergrated Taxonomic Information System). I have decided to use this system in order to avoid confusion as well as because it offers a comprehensive hierarchy from kingdom right through to subspecies whereas other sources only go as far as order or  provide the names of some of the higher taxonomical ranks but only indicate "unclassified" rather than providing the rank.
  • When and where possible I will endeavour to include alternatives classifications although  I may limit this to occasions where an opportunity arises to discuss the reason for the different classifications.
  • Taxonomical data used in this post was retrieved [February 11 2015], from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database,



On-line sources:
  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System: Entry for Saintpaulia
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Entry for Saintpaulia
  • The Plant List: Entry for Saintpaulia
  • University of Tennessee Herbarium Entry for Saintpaulia
  • Our House Plants Entry for Saintpaulia
  • Texas A & M University: Entry for Saintpaulia
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Entry for Saintpaulia ionatha
  • WWW.Gesneriads: Entry for Saintpaulia
  • Dave's Garden Entry for Saintpaulia
  • Grow African Violets
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Saintpaulia
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Gesneriaceae
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Lamiales
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Asterids
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Amaranthaceae
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Caryophllales

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· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters):
· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) :

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) :

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