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Exhibition of Saintpaulias

Between 17 and 20 May, Tallinn Botanic Garden is holding an exhibition of Saintpaulias, also known as African violets.

According to the latest data, the Saintpaulia genus of the Gesneriaceae family comprises 20 plant species in eastern Africa. In their natural habitat, Saintpaulias are found in the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania as well as on the cliffs and mossy rocks of coastal forests in southeastern Kenya. The first African violet was described in 1893, 125 years ago, which makes this year something of a jubilee. The plant genus is named after Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire (1860–1910), who discovered the plant in Tanzania.

The abundance and versatility of Saintpaulia varieties are amazing: over 2000 varieties have been developed. There are varieties with plain, polypetalous, grooved and greenish flowers. African violets with grey or yellow petals are the rarest. The smallest Saintpaulias grow to 6 cm in height, and the largest can be as tall as 60 cm. the number of Saintpaulias sold all over the world every tear reaches several million, and their value, over 25 million US dollars.

In addition to Saintpaulias, the exhibition provides an overview of other Gesneriaceae, for example, Petrocosmea, Sinningia, Codonanthe, widow’s tears (Achimenes), Aeschynanthus, Cape primrose (Streptocarpus), Episcia, "goldfish plant" (Nematanthus), Chirita and others. The exhibition, which expects guests from Finland, Sweden and Russia as well, will be held for the ninth time and involves collaboration with private collectors, who will be sharing advice and answering visitor’s questions. More information about the Saintpaulias club is available on web pages www.senpolia.eu and www.facebook.com/senpolia.eu/.

The exhibition will host stalls selling rare Saintpaulia varieties, rooted leaf cuttings, the soil suitable for these flowers and special plant food. A film about the Gesneriaceae family will be shown on the first day of the exhibition, which is also when the contest for selecting the most beautiful Saintpaulia will take place.

The exhibition of Saintpaulias will be held in the conference of Tallinn Botanic Garden for four days only.

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