my question is simply this, whats the difference between violets and african violets?
In a word: "african".
In more than one word:
- violets are part of Violaceae
- african violets are Saintpaulia
As such, there are key morphological differences.
They are both loosely called violets on account of the five petalled, purple/violet flowers.
African violets are also called Usambara violets, by the way.
African violets can't be grown outdoors in most climates...... they're houseplants...... violets despite a few..... can be grown outdoors..... with ease..... unless you have no shade...... they require part shade and do not like drought...... :)