house plant with heart shaped velvety leaves ?

We think that the house plant you are talking about is the Saintpaulia, commonly known as the African Violet.

As described by Floridata Plant Encyclopedia, African violets are dainty little plants with rosettes of heart shaped velvety leaves surrounding short, upright stems that bear clusters of five-petaled flowers in colors ranging from white to shades of blue, pink, purple and red.

There are more than 2000 cultivars of African violets. Some have ruffled petals, some double petals, some multi-colored petals, some variegated leaves, some with "quilted" leaves, and some have a trailing habit.

Depending on which authority you follow, there are 6-20 species of Saintpaulia. All of them are native to a small region in East Africa, mainly the country of Tanzania. African violets grow in the wild in mountainous tropical cloud forests along stream banks, on rocks or on trees.

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