Saintpaulia Species

In 1986, the (ICUN) International Union for the Conservation of Nature placed it on their list of endangered species and listed it as one of the twelve MOST ENDANGERED plant SPECIES on the planet.

The main site where the African Violets were found


These plants were originally found in Tanzania and Kenya. The highest concentration of these species is on the East and West Usambara Mountains near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Only four of them were found in Kenya. These plants grow roots at an altitude which varies from sea level up to over 6 000' altitude.


All species of the genus Saintpaulia have single blue flowers, sometimes very dark. Some have very pale to medium lavender flowers. Of these, three have an almost white flower with darker upper petals. Strangely, these three plants are found in the same region farther south over the mountains of Nguru and Uluguru. They are:

S. inconspicuus

It was long believed that this species had disappeared during the 2nd World War, like S. pusilla. Some say that we have found a new population there a few years ago, but never nothing was confirmed.


Meaning of the name: unnoticed, referring to the flowers.

Altitude: about 4 500'

Year of discovery: December 19, 1932 by H. J. Schlieben and December 18, 1934 by E. Bruce


Photo: S. inconspicuus - Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew


Not having been able to get their hands on a picture of this plant, I tried to make a picture as accurately as possible from the description by Burtt and specimen board that was sent to me by the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.


Illustration: S. inconspicuus — F. Pilon©

S. goetzeanus

This tiny creeping rarely party collections of African violet enthusiasts. It is particularly difficult to grow probably because of the high altitude of its' natural environment.


Meaning of the name in honour of the first collector, W. Goetze

Altitude between 4 300' and 6 000'

Year of Discovery: 1898 by W. Goetze

Photo: F. Pilon ©

S. pusilla

Another small species that was believed to be lost forever. Fortunately, we found some specimen few years ago. We do not know yet in domestic culture.


Meaning of the name: very small

Altitude between 3 900' and 5 900'

Year of Discovery: 1900 by A. Engler


Photo: Thanks to Charlotte Lindqvist for this precious picture.

(© Copyright)

We can also note that all the leaves from these plants have green undersides. There is no foliage variegation among the species of this genus. Variegated foliage is by a mutation which appeared in 1958.


The botanical name of species may be chosen based on several factors.


Named after its collector

S. grotei  for Mr. Grote 


One characteristic of the plant

S. rupicolus = grows on rocks 


Or where it was found 

S. shumensis = Shume Mount, Tanzania 

S. tongwensis = Tongwe Mount, Tanzania 

S. teitensis = Teita Hills, Kenya