First, check the roots. Violets have deeper roots compared to African violets. One probable reason for the deeper roots is violets are originally growing in the wild.
As for the leaves, violets have small and heart-shaped ones. They are either hairy or smooth. African violets’ leaves are thick and fleshy.
African violets’ flowers tend to clump together more readily, while the violet’s flowers usually grow from different stems. The latter’s blooms also have a whirling pattern similar to that of roses.
Among all the differences they have, the scent is the most telling. Violets give out a fragrant scent, while African violets are scentless.