Monday, December 17, 2007


Why didn't any of you tell me that there were these in the world? Bad readers! No cookie!

The leaves really are a little bit lavender, by the way: the colors here are pretty close to real-life. Clicking on the picture will get you a slightly larger version.

I come back from lunch on Monday and there's a cardboard box with a couple of these that I'm supposed to repot. So I didn't meet the owner (hoping to this morning, maybe), but I desperately want to know where these came from.

There is a down side, that being that even by Saintpaulia standards, the leaves were terrifyingly brittle. I had, naturally, intended to take a leaf or two anyway, because . . . well, how the hell could I not, you know? But one of the repottings was actually a division, and the two plants that were together were so intertwined with one another that every time I touched them, or tried to move a leaf aside to untangle something, something broke off. It was horrible. I mean, I have dreams like this. (Not dreams about Saintpaulia specifically, but dreams about finding something super cool and new and awesome and then losing it or destroying it somehow. Often in the dreams, the valuable objects in question are turtles, which has sort of been explained already.) In the end, I brought a leaf home, I kept two at work to try to start plants from, and the remainder (about 7-10 of them) I stuck in a glass of water to give to the owner, who hopefully will understand about the brittleness (and maybe appreciate that I cleaned mineral deposits off of the old pots for a lot longer than the boss would have wanted me to, I bet).

Anyway. So: did everybody else already know about these? What might the name of this cultivar be? If I'm able to get anything useful from the owner (places, names, dates), I'll let you know.

Just tell me, next time, when somebody comes up with something this cool. I mean, damn. I tell you guys.

UPDATE: So I talked to her a couple hours ago, and she said that she had no idea where it came from, that her sister-in-law had given them to her a long time ago. She was able to tell me that it blooms, and the flowers are infrequent and light yellow. So, not a lot of information, but still more than I knew before.

I hope everybody does go and check out alenka's links, in comments: some very cool, weird, or cool and weird stuff there.

SECOND UPDATE: All of the leaves at work or at home have already failed as of 28 December 2007. This isn't really surprising to me, given the general coldness and wetness at this time of year, and my inexperience with Saintpaulia.

THIRD UPDATE: There is now a Saintpaulia ionantha cvv. profile post up, if anyone reading this is interested.


Anonymous said...

This is actually one of the few of your blogged plants that I don't own and have never even seen! So I plead ignorance. I haven't grown african violets in years, although I had about 100 when I was a teen. Got kind of bored with them. I tend to go on binges with plant families for several years and then move on to a new challenge. I'm kind of in between binges right now - not sure where I'm headed next. I had been considering trying a few AV's again, just for the heck of it. I need flowers, and overwintering the tropical hibiscuses just got to be too buggy to deal with.

Anonymous said...

These aren't very rare, but you basically have to buy them mail order usually. Though lately I've been seeing what looks like the same one cultivar, with pink variegation and matching pink flowers, in local nurseries near me. But mostly you have to order them online, which is weird, considering how pretty they are.

Often variegated ones are a bit slower to propagate and to grow, because of the lack of chlorophyl thing. So maybe the advantage of them selling better doesn't beat the increased propagation costs? I've propagated a bunch of african violets, both green and variegated, and the variegated ones aren't a whole lot slower, but I imagine when you have a large-scale business, it adds up. Sometimes plantlets come up all-white (or all-pink, all-creme, depending on the variegation type), and then you have to feed them lots of nitrogen and can't pot them up on their own till enough green leaves show up... So yeah, they are a bit more trouble.

There are different types of variegation, too, like crown variegation, mosaic, Tommie Lou, etc. Leaf chimeras are very cool too, check out the Harmony's Little Stinker, I mean wouldn't you grow this plant just because of the name? :)

But yeah, variegated african violets aren't the latest craze -- I'm guessing David Senk's hybrids are what now is considered unusual, check 'em out:
Probably because of Senk's hybrids wasp african violets in general are coming back (though most of them are from the 60s):

And species violets might qualify as a latest craze, too. Check this one out:

Oh, and I guess you've figured that out, but to propagate them, pick the greenest leaf possible, it'll do better, and the babies will still be just as variegated.

Anonymous said...

And off topic, but since we are on the subject of cool plants, I think these guys are the coolest plants ever:

Aren't they WAY cool? Ok, I just had to say this, and I'll go away now... :)

Anonymous said...

Just saw your update -- if the flowers are indeed yellow, or even yellowish, *that* actually is pretty rare. There aren't any really-really yellow violets yet, I don't think, but there are hybridizers working on this color. If you check the history of AV hybridization here: ,
yellow flowers are the latest ones on the timeline of hybridizing accomplishments!

Though to me, pink leaves are still way cooler :)

mr_subjunctive said...

The impression I got was that they weren't yellow yellow, that it was a kind of a pale yellow. But still actually yellow, not cream or beige or something.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, pale yellow is pretty much as good as it gets. 'Warm Sunshine'
is considered a very good yellow, so yeah.

So you know, pale yellow + very nicely variegated -- it's a pretty rare plant after all. Would have been cool to know the cultivar, but oh well. From what little I know about morality, I can see that you have a moral obligation to grow about 250 plants from that leaf you got, and then start selling them in the greenhouse, so as to expose more people to this coolness.

And I bet the infrequent flowering of the plant might be just a care problem -- I don't know, but since the owner needs help repotting the plant, she might miss other things, like maybe not enough light, or something. I know when I got my first african violet, for several years I was firmly convinced that these plants flower only once a year, in the winter, I'd say around mid-February. And then it turned out that the plant, which was maybe 8'' in diameter, for some stupid reason just didn't like growing in a 12'' pot filled with peat. Go figure.

Ok, and here's another cool plant, sinningia leucotricha:
it's fuzzy! Even the flowers are fuzzy!:

I got a tuber of this plant in the fall, and for some reason it decided to wake up from dormancy now, no idea why. And the thing is *fuzzy*, it's just made out of fuzzy, it's the definition of fuzzy. So naturally I decided I need to pet the thing, and naturally I knocked off the shoot. But it seems that if a plant wants to be fuzzy, it needs to evolve the ability to recover from human attention, so thankfully the tuber promptly grew another shoot.