African Violet Terms

by Dorothy Kosowsky

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Violets 101 image designating the African Violet Society of America is providing the information

Acid: Soil or water with a pH less than 7.0.

Alkaline: Soil or water with a pH greater than 7.0.

Anther: One or more sacs which contain the pollen.

Artificial Light: Light other than that provided by the sun.

Axil: The angle formed at the juncture of the petiole and the main stem.

Bell: Single blossom with a bell-like shape.

Bloom Stalk: Includes the peduncle, pedicel, and flower parts.

Calyx: The cup-like base of a blossom, usually green, which attaches to the pedicel.

Capillary Action: The movement of water upward against gravity as seen in wick watering.

Chimera: Plant or plant part that is a mixture of two or more genetically different types of cells. In flowers, produces a pinwheel color pattern with distinct stripes of color on each petal.

Chlorophyll: The green pigment found in the chloroplasts of cells which absorb light for photosynthesis.

Clone: An identical copy of another, the result of vegetative propagation.

Condition: The cultural appearance of an exhibit at the time of judging.

Chromosome: Microscopic, rod-like structure composed of individual units (genes) which pass on the plant’s characteristics.

Crown: All the leaves which grew from a single growth point.

Crown Variegation (Champion): The variegation is restricted to the center or crown of the plant and turns green as the leaves mature to the outer layers.

Cultivar (Variety): A plant resulting from hybridization or mutation.

Disbudding: Removal of the flower buds or bud stems in order to delay blooming for a later time.

Division: The cutting or gentle separation of two or more crowns.

Double: Blossoms with at least two layers of petals.

Double Potting: The placement of a plant (still in a pot) within a larger pot, with the space between the two pots filled with soil.

Drench: To wet the soil to the point of saturation.

Edged: Lobes of blossoms of any shape which are edged with any color.

Fantasy: Blossoms are speckled, streaked or spotted with contrasting color or deeper shade of the same color.

Fertilizer: A formula of nutrients used to enrich soil and increase productivity.

Flared-top Pot: A pot designed with an extended lip which serves as an additional support for the foliage.

Floriferous: Describes the quantity of bloom on a plant.

Foliage: The leaves of a plant collectively.

Frilled: Blossoms with heavily serrated outer lobes.

Geneva Edged: Lobes of the blossoms are edged in white.

Girl: Leaves with stem growing into the leaf blade causing a distinct lighter color marking at the base, often accompanied with deeply scalloped edges.

Holly: Heavily crested leaf with leaf edges curled forward and back in exaggerated waves.

Humidity: The ratio of water vapor held in the air, beneficial to plant growth.

Hybrid: A plant grown from seed as a result of breeding or cross-pollination.

Hybridization: Transferring pollen from the stamen to the stigma, often from one plant to another.

Hybridizer: One who breeds or cross-pollinates plants.

Judge’s Handbook: Nickname for the AVSA Handbook for Growers, Exhibitors and Judges – containing rules and regulations for shows.

Leach: To pour a quantity of plain water through the soil of a plant to flush away accumulated fertilizer salts neutralize pH.

Leaf Cutting: The blade of a leaf with a portion of the petiole cut from a plant and used for propagation.

Longifolia (Spider): Narrow pointed strap-like leaves with either plain or wavy edges.

Macronutrients: The primary nutrients needed by plants in large quantities, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Master List (AVML): A series of volumes listing all registered and many non-registered varieties of African violets.

Micronutrients (Trace Elements): The nutrients needed by plants in small quantities, including zinc, iron, and copper.

Miniature: A type of African violet which by definition measures 6 inches or less in overall diameter.

Mosaic Variegation (Lillian Jarrett, Emperor): A pattern of variegation distinguished by lighter color in the center of the leaf with green around the perimeter..

Multicolor: Blossoms with two or more colors.

Mutant (Sport): Plants which have developed new features not seen in the parent plant. This may occur naturally or be chemically induced.

Neck: The exposed portion of the main stem of the plant caused by a loss of older leaves.

Ovary: The bulb-shaped base of the pistil in which seed develops.

Pasteurize: To raise the temperature of soil or potting mix to 180° F and maintain that temperature for 30 minutes.

Pathogen: Any agent which causes disease: a virus, bacterium or fungus.

Peduncle: Part of a blossom stem which connects from the leaf axil and bears the flower cluster.

Pedicel: The delicate stems supporting individual flowers and buds of a flower cluster.

Perlite: A type of volcanic glass greatly expanded in heat to form white nearly weightless particles of varying sizes – a common potting mix ingredient used to add porosity to the soil.

Petal: The individual lobes of a blossom.

Petiole: The stem which attaches the leaf blade to the main stem of the plant.

Photosynthesis: The production of food in plants through a complex chemical reaction involving light, water, and carbon dioxide.

Pistil: The seed-bearing female portion of the flower consisting of ovary, style and stigma.

Plain (Tailored): Leaf which is plain in texture and form, most common to African violets.

Plantlet: An immature plant.

Pointed: Ends of the leaf come to a definite point.

Pollen: The fertile yellow powder released from the anther.

Propagate: To cause vegetative reproduction of clones.

Quilted: Leaves have distinct raised areas between the veins.

Rooted Clump: A cluster of one or more clones attached to the mother leaf.

Rosette: A cluster of leaves radiating symmetrically from a central point/stem.

Ruffled (Frilled, Wavy, Fluted): Leaves which have serrated or wavy edges.

Seedling: A plant grown from a seed.

Semidouble: Blossoms that possess more than the standard five lobes (often just an extra tuft) but less than a full second row of petals.

Semiminiature: A type of African violet which by definition measures over 6 inches but is no greater than 8 inches in overall diameter.

Sepal: Each of the parts of the calyx of a flower, securing the petals and typically green and leaflike.

Single: Blossoms have five lobes, and appear to be a single layer of petals.

Single-crown: A typical growth pattern with closely stacked leaf axils which form a flat rosette.

Slip Potting: Placing a plant into a clean pot of the same size to hide inner pot – often required by show schedule.

Species: A subdivision of the genus – the wild violets found growing in Africa.

Sphagnum Peat Moss: A long-fibered moss which is water-absorbent as it decomposes often used in potting mix.

Spooned (Ovate, Cupped): Leaves are concave with high edges like a spoon.

Standard: A violet which by definition is greater than 9″ in overall diameter.

Star: Blossoms have five lobes of about equal size and distance from one another.

Starter Plant (Plug): Immature plant in a small pot – a common size sold by mail-order vendors.

Stamen: The pollen-bearing male part of the flower including a filament and a set of anthers.

Stem: The main stalk or trunk of a plant.

Sticktite: A term used to describe blossoms which remain attached to the calyx and do not drop off prematurely.

Stigma: The sticky receptive surface at the top of the pistil to which pollen adheres.

Style: The elongated throat of the pistil which elevates the stigma into a favorable position for collecting pollen.

Sucker (Secondary Crown): The beginning of a new plant which forms near the base of the plant or in leaf axils.

Supreme: A type of thick, hairy, quilted foliage with pencil-like petioles.

Symmetry: The degree of perfect duplication and overlapping of the foliage, evenly spaced around the main stem of the plant with each row of leaves progressively larger than the row above.

Systemic: A chemical substance which, when absorbed by plant tissue, causes the tissue to be poisonous to certain pests or diseases.

Tissue Culture: Test tube propagation method using a culture medium and producing hundreds of clones from a minute bit of plant material.

Tommie Lou (Variegated): A type of variegation which most commonly is on the edge of leaves but may appear across the entire leaf blade; Leaves may be marked with white, cream, light yellow, or rosy shades from light pink to deep wine red.

Trailer: A type of African violet with long internodes between leaf axils, which by definition has a minimum of at least three crowns and which has a graceful form.

Two-tone: Blossoms having two or more shades of one color.

Vermiculite: A sterile, lightweight, brownish material manufactured from mica ore and often used as a water-absorbent component of potting mix.

Wasp: Blossoms with distinctly separated narrow petal lobes which may be rolled or fluted.

Wetting Agent: A solution which is mixed with water to reduce the surface tension which may cause water to bead rather than be absorbed.

Wicking (Wick-watering): A system of watering using a man-made material as a wick to draw water from a reservoir of water into the soil of a potted plant.