10 Types of African Violets – Popular Saintpaulia Varieties

When we say African Violet, it comes to our mind a compact, violet-flowered plant with velvety leaves. But there are many African Violet varieties, and some of them look almost identical.

The African Violet Society of America has more than 16,000 varieties in its database. These varieties are grouped by their growth and by their flowers.

In this article, I will present to you these two groups and the types of African Violets these groups enclose.

African Violet Varieties by Growth

There are two types of African Violets categorized by growth: rosette and trailing.

– Rosette African Violets

Rosette African Violets are known as single crown plants. The leaves grow outwards from the center stalk in a circular pattern. The stem and its internodes are short.

The leaves of a Rosette African Violets grow close to the surface of the soil and this can only have five symmetrical spirals of leaves that are clustered closely at the base of the plant.

The flowers of the Rosette African Violets grow within the center of the plant.

– Trailing African Violets

Trailing African Violets are multi-crown plants. These have multiple stems from the same plant roots.

Each stem has leaves and because they are not strong enough to grow upright, they grow semi-vertical. The leaves on the stems grow circularly as the Rosette African Violets’ leaves.

Trailing African Violets can have a cascading growth because they grow sideways; therefore, these can be grown in a hanging basket. This style of growth gives the plant trailing characteristics.

The main stem and intermodal space of this type of African Violets are longer than the Rosette stems.

Trailing African Violets can be miniature, semi-miniature, or standard size, depending on the size of the leaves.

The flowers of the Trailing African Violets grow from each crown and this gives it a bushy look.

African Violet Varieties by Flowers

The African Violet varieties are classified by the number of petals on flowers and the shape as well, and all these groups can be found in many colors.

– Single Flowers

An African Violet that has single flowers, in this case, means that every flower has a single layer of petals. Each flower has five petals. 2 petals are smaller, 3 petals are bigger and in the middle of the flower, we can see the reproductive organs, 2 stamens, and a pistol.

– Semi-Double Flowers

Semi-double flowers have between 5-10 petals. They have the 5 petals in the first row, and then a few extra crests or clusters of petals in the center.

These extra petals usually curl up and they don’t open fully like the first 5 petals.

– Double Flowers

Double flowers have more than 10 full-size petals and have 2 complete rings of petals.

The reproductive organs in the center of the flower can be hardly seen, as the petals form a full flower.

– Frilled Flowers

The frilled flowers of the African Violets can be single, semi-double, or double flowers, but the petals are frilled/lacy at the edge.

– Star Shaped Flowers

Star-shaped flowers, as their name states, look like a star. There are 5 petals that are all equal in size and are evenly spaced.

– Wasp Shaped Flowers

These flowers look a bit different from the usual African Violet flowers. However, the wasp-shaped flowers have 5 petals just like the single flowers.

The difference is that the top two petals are much smaller and narrower, and are twisted as well.

– Cup Shaped Flowers

The cup-shaped flowers are similar to star flowers. All the petals are joined together and like this, they form a shallow cup.

– Bell Shaped Flowers

Bell-shaped flowers have 5 petals just like single flowers; however, these petals are grown together and form a narrow bell shape.

Which is the Rarest African Violet Species?

As I said earlier, there are more than 16,000 varieties in the database of the African Violet Society of America.

The rarest African Violet species is the Streptocarpus afroviola (Saintpaulia pusilla) that is native to Tanzania.

This African Violet was first described in 1900 by Adolf Engler. It is known from the four mountains of Tanzania. These mountains are: Uluguru, Ukaguru, Nguru and Udzungwa.

However, on the mountains of the Ukaguru and Nguru, Streptocarpus afroviola was found only in a single site on each mountain.

This species of African Violet grows on shady and moss-covered rocks in the montane rainforest at the altitude of 1,300 – 1,500 m/4,270 – 5,740 ft).


African Violets can come in a huge range of colors and color patterns. The shapes of the flowers are varied as well.

I am sure that there is at least one that can win your heart. However, as a passionate person, I find it difficult to choose, because I would grow all of them if I could.

African Violets are not only beautiful plants but are special in terms of taking care of them. But even if you have more varieties, their needs are the same.

African Violets   Updated: March 31, 2022
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of PlantIndex.com, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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