European settlers discovered African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) in east African forests in 1892. Sold as a houseplant by the late 1800s, African violets gained popularity following 1938, when the newly invented fluorescent light provided the light intensity they need to perform well. African violets grow inside but could potentially develop outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12. Hybridization and cultivar selection have transformed the first plant, giving many exotic-looking leaf types that have particular names used in exhibiting African violets.
Variegated leaves possess the green chlorophyll absent in some sections of the leaves, so those parts are white. In African violets, yellow or pink pigments give extra leaf colour. The very first variegated-leaf African violet occurred in 1957, a mutation of this white double-blooming “White Pride.” Named after its originator, “Tommie Lou” includes a white border on the leaves. Several other variegated varieties are now accessible. They do not develop as rapidly as non-variegated plants, require lower light intensity, and are more subject to diseases and damage from environmental pressure or rough handling.
Folded Leaf Edges
Some African violet foliage types have variations from the normal, curved, plain-edged leaves of their first species. Two types possess the leaf margins altered to form folds. The spooned kind has the leaf edges wrapped up around the edges so the leaf looks like the bowl of a spoon. The trumpet kind has the underside leaf borders rolled up and attached in the base for some distance to resemble the flared end of a musical instrument.
Uneven Leaf Edges
In different types, leaf margins have irregular edges. In ruffled or fringed kinds, the leaf edges are wavy and decorated with frills or ruffles. Holly leaf types possess broad indentations along the wavy borders reminiscent of holly, together with the edges bent or curled. Oak leaf types have profound indentations, giving them a lobed look. One kind of leaf contains two divisions toward the base of the main leaf, leading to a three-lobed or chemical leaf kind. Often the lobes are held near the back of the primary leaf. It’s also referred to as the wasp, piggyback or yearning leaf kind. The girl leaf kind, named after the variety “Blue Girl,” includes a white blotch at the base of the leaf and the leaf edges are scalloped.
Ordinarily, African violets have a smooth, uniform texture, with plant hairs covering the top of the leaf. The hairs are different lengths depending on the number — sometimes short and nearly unnoticeable and sometimes appearing velvety. At the quilted leaf kind, the leaf layer is altered, with puckered or puffed areas between the leaf veins. Supreme leaf types can also be quilted, but are big, heavy, stiff and much more brittle, with long hairs and thick petioles.
Relatively Unmodified Leaves
The fundamental African violet shape is named the tailored or plain kind, also referred to as the boy kind after an early variety, “Blue Boy.” Leaves with pointed ends are classified as the pointed type. A variation is the pointed-serrated kind, with a pointed end and teeth along the leaf edge. If the leaves are narrow with pointed ends, they belong to the spider or longifolia leaf kind.