Saintpaulia (the species and varieties of which are commonly known as African Violets) is one of the smaller groups in the Old World Gesneriaceae, but also one of the best known because of the extensive use of its varieties as house plants. Wild populations are found in Tanzania and Kenya and grow on moss covered boulders, on cliffs or on rock outcrops shaded by large trees.
Hybridization programs over the last 80 years have exploited a number of mutations resulting in the production of thousands of brightly colored cultivars which can be easily grown in our homes. This site includes an article on the background, history and current status for these attractive and immensely popular plants, and many images of species and hybrids.
Saintpaulia has long been known to be fairly closely related to other African Gesneriad genera, especially to subgenus Streptocarpella within the genus Streptocarpus. Recent studies have confirmed the relationship is very close indeed, and botanists have “sunk” Saintpaulia within this group.
Technically, all the species and hybrids we’ve known as Saintpaulia are now properly Streptocarpus, and will generally be referred to as such within the GRW. For the individual plant listings in the species and hybrids sections (accessible below), we are maintaining the convention of calling them just “Saintpaulia”, rather than “Streptocarpus”. These will all be changed eventually.
A full discussion of Saintpaulia can be found in the article “Saintpaulia: The African Violet” by Jeff Smith. For those with an interest in this fascinating group of beautiful plants, the article will provide a wealth of useful and interesting information.
The links below will take you to pages where you can see thumbnail images of the many African Violet species and hybrids on the site. Clicking on a thumbnail will take you to a page with a larger image and often text discussing the species or cultivar. We’re sure you’ll enjoy the beauty!