How to get beautiful African violets - The discovery

How to get beautiful African violets


The discovery


We will start with a little history about the African violet. Tanga is a small town on the East African coast along the Indian Ocean. Today it is the largest city in Tanzania. There are about a thousand years, the Persians migrated to Tanga.

The history of Saintpaulia begins with the arrival of the Germans in Tanga who was then a small trading post for ivory.

In 1891, the Germans began to settle in this small post. They took control of the region  ruled by Sultan Zanzibar. The new German colony was known as Tanganyika. The arrival of the Germans has completely altered the way of life of residents of Tanga. Religious life and beliefs of local people have been transformed by the German missionaries.

German private commercial interests have enabled the region to grow rapidly. The Germans built roads and a railway. They built a school and a hospital. One of the biggest German commercial successes of the time was the sisal production. By 1893, the Germans began its culture. Sisal is a plant-like yucca. This plant has  the longest and the most resistant natural fibers. Synthetic fibers were not yet invented, the sisal production was one of the greatest Tanga's achievements of agricultural and trade . The small town of Tanga was then greatly expanded.

In 1892, Baron Adalbert Emil Walter von Saint Paul-Radcliffe Illaire district commissioner of Tanga's province  discovered the african violet in the Usambara Mountains.

Baron Adalbert Emil Walter Radcliffe Von Saint Paul-Illaire

He collected the seeds that he sent to his father in Germany, Ulrich von-St.Paul Illaire who  was an amateur botanist and the president of the Dendrology Society of Germany. He planted the tiny seeds in his home town greenhouse  of Fischbach. He managed to get them to germinate and grow them until they bloom.


He gave some seeds to his friend Hermann Wendland. Wendland had been trained in the botanical garden of Gottingen and the royal garden at Kew. In 1870, he became the director of the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen in Hanover, Germany. The plant was successfully multiplied. Wendland classed the african violet in the Gesneriaceae family. He gave the Botanical name  of Saintpaulia, in honor of his friend. In 1893, the Botanical Garden of  Herrenhaus exhibited the Saintpaulia for the first time in the fifth floral exhibition center. This plant has become one of the most popular in the world.

Today, we can still find wild African violets in the Amani Nature Reserve.

      In 1926, the first hybrids made ​​their appearance in the United States. Here are their names: Admiral, Amethyst Blue Boy, Commodore, Mermaid, Neptune, Norseman, Number 32, Sailor Boy and Viking.