African Violet & Gesneriad Society of Syracuse


African Violet & Gesneriad Society of Syracuse

Newsletter November 2017

The meeting will be held on November 9th at 7 pm in Pitcher Hill Community Church, 605 Baily Rd., North Syracuse.

Guests are always welcome.

Greeter are Jerry and Sue

Refreshments will be Betty, Marty & Carm

Violet Relatives will be Penny


A great program on trailers featuring a slide program and hands on; Bring your trailer in so we can show you what to do with it or if you have a great trailer to show us how you accomplished the growing techniques.


All those on a paper mailing list will receive their new membership list for 2018, those with email will have to pick them up at the meetings.

What does 'Ma's Blue Penguin' have in common with a three headed Greek monster? They are both examples of chimera [kīˈmirÉ™], and neither could be described as ordinary.  Today the African Violet Society of America Plant Registration Chair, Joe Bruns, is going to tell you more about this extraordinary type of violet!  In Greek mythology, a chimera is character composed of parts of more than one animal. Genetically, a chimera is composed of tissues from two different layers. An African violet chimera has blossom petals that are composed of tissues from both the mesophyll and the epidermis, hence the two different colors or color patterns.  Earlier African violets mostly had solid-color blossoms, so the chimeras that came from them had two distinct colors, with a sharp transition from one color to the next. However, today's African violets have complex color patterns, with fantasy markings (both streaks and spots - "puff" fantasy), rays, different-colored eyes and edges, etc. Therefore the stripes on the newer chimeras are not always distinct.  For example, 'Ma's Blue Penguin' could be described as white with a blue edge. However, since it doesn't reproduce true by leaf cutting, it's a chimera. It's assumed that the outer stripes are solid blue, while the center stripes are white with a blue edge. Since it's not a distinct edge (the white fades into blue on the edge), similarly, but to a lesser extent, the white fades into the blue outer stripes. So what distinguishes a chimera is that it does not bloom true when propagated by leaf cutting, and it needs to be propagated by sucker or blossom stem. A chimera will have stripes, but they are not always distinct. In fact, it's possible to have a chimera blossom with tissues from two different layers, where both tissues have the same coloring. (In that case we wouldn't even know it was a chimera.) In some cases the color and pattern on the two different tissues are very similar, making it difficult to say where the outer stripes end and the inner stripe begins. The above refers to blossom chimeras. There are also leaf chimeras, where the leaves are produced from two different tissue layers, and they appear to be variegated. We refer to them as "chimera variegated."


African Violet & Gesneriad Society of Syracuse

Newsletter October 2017

The meeting will be held on October 12th at 7 pm at

Pitcher Hill Community Church, 605 Baily Rd., North Syracuse.

Guests are always welcome.

Refreshments: Mary & Linda


Our program for October is Auction, bring labeled plants, design material and anything related to our hobby to auction and of

course bring lots of cash so you can not be out bided.

Club News

  • Anybody who has not paid dues as of October 30th will be dropped from the mailing and member list, see me if you are not sure if  your dues are due.
  • NYSAVS Convention is October 19 - 21st in Albany, NY.
  • If you want to contribute to the basket for NYSAVS convention you have to bring it to this meeting, the theme is "Backpacking with Violets".
  • Show theme for April 2018 at Beaver Lake is "Storm of Violets"
  • We regret that Brenda Gaffield is taking a year off due to family health issues, we wish her the best.
  • A past member should be here again, Barb Leonard is moving back, we have missed you.
  • Elsie Kieper lost her husband recently, she is the only living charter member of NYSAVS, a donation has been made in their honor.
  • Congratulations to Penny for taking on the responsibility of second Vice President and program chair, way to go Penny.

Do African Violets Have a Scent?

No. Not so far... 

  There is no member of the African violet genus (more correctly called Saintpaulia) which is scented. It would be good to note here that wild violets found growing in the Northern Hemisphere often do have a pleasant scent. They are members of the Violaceae family and not related to Saintpaulia at all. The Gesneriad family which includes African violets has several members which have a fragrance. Breeders who are trying to develop scented violets have tried to make hybrid crosses especially using Saintpaulia and scented Streptocarpus (the closest genetic relative) species. The scent of the six "Strep" species is often described as that of "warm honey" but some also have an overtone of creosote. Interesting! At this point, no successful hybrid cross of Saintpaulia and Streptocarpus has been reported, so the work continues. Genetic engineering might be the next best choice, but how important is it to have a smelly violet? Deep in the center of every African violet are the magic places called the "leaf axils." Axils are where each leaf meets the main stem of the plant. Why is it magic? Because just above the leaf axil is a growth point where meristem tissue allows flower buds or suckers (secondary crowns of leaves) to form. When the cultural conditions are right (good light, consistent moisture, and good nutrition, for example), it is likely that your violet will try to reproduce by forming either a bud or a sucker. In poorer conditions, your violet may become vegetative, in which case the axils produce no flowers or suckers. Some violets, like the one shown, have the genetic ability to produce two bud stems from the same axil. Some do it with regularity, while others will only "double stem" when grown for show competitions. Double stemming is a valuable trait which may virtually cover a plant with flowers. It's worth searching out those varieties which bloom for show with a hundred or more flowers... they almost always have this wonderful genetic trait. Wave the wand of good African violet culture and the leaf axils will work magic.

Welcome to today's Growing Tip email from the African Violet Society of America.

Can you name the most common chewing pest of African violets reported in the USA?  It's a nightmare. In fact it often happens in the dark. A perfectly grown African violet suddenly and mysteriously has irregular bite marks like the ones you see at right. Or buds and blossoms disappear overnight - gone with no trace. You may not find a trace of the pest unless you place traps specially designed to attract it.  This pest is very common and will feed on many things. While many chewing pests are put off by hairy leaves, this pest is not. It will quite happily eat African violets if their preferred food source isn't available.  This leaf is from a special exhibit at the recent African Violet Society of America convention. Don't worry, the damage did not occur at the show. Rather the exhibitor was a student who knew exactly what pest was causing the damage in a classroom. I took a photo since it's rare that anyone will admit to having this pest in their home. Here's one more tool from the AVSA website about this pest and it might even help you with other pest problems down the road. Lots of clues... did you guess cockroaches? You would be right.