Gesneriads - African Violets
Gesneriaceae is a diverse family of plants that includes over 2,000 different species, spread across more than 120 genera. Around 300 or more of the species are in cultivation.
Members of the Gesneriaceae family, or gesneriads as they are commonly known, have the greatest commercial value as ornamental plants. In particular, given they originate from
tropical and subtropical places they are grown as houseplants in temperate parts of the world.
Amongst the most popular species are those known as African Violets, which are species and hybrids of Streptocarpus, section Saintpaulia. These were first discovered in the late
1800s. In 1892, a German officer based in East Africa sent samples to his father in Germany, Baron Ulrich von Saint Paul-Illaire. He shared these specimens with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hanover. Hermann Wendland gave the species Saintpaulia ionantha its name because ‘ionantha’ means “having violet-like flowers” in Greek.
If you would like to know more about Gesneriads take a look at our eBook Gesneriads, African Violets, Gloxinias, Streptocarpus and Others.
Or, learn more with our 100 hour course on African Violets.
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