ASHEBORO, N.C.-The North Carolina Zoo's African Pavilion will be abloom throughout October with displays of African violets and other colorful Gesneriads, a family of plants containing some of the world's most beautiful and widely grown flowering house plants.

The month-long show will feature more than 1,700 colorful plants, including dozens of cultivars and even one of the few original species of African Violets that became the backbone of breeding that has produced thousands of hybrids.

One of the hybrids represented in the show is the "space violet," or the EverFloris violet. Development of these violets began in 1984, when NASA launched 25,000 seeds into space aboard one of its space shuttles. The seeds orbited Earth for nearly six years as part of a program to test the effects of long-term exposure to cosmic radiation and lack of gravity. When the seeds were retrieved in 1990, many mutations soon became apparent such as an extraordinary abundance of ever-blooming flowers--which became EverFloris violets.

Native to the warm, moist and shady forest floor of Tanzania in east-central Africa, African Violets are in the genus Saintpaulia, part of the Gesneriad family.

Visitors can view the violet show daily during the zoo's regular hours of operation, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The show is free with zoo admission.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.