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Family: Violaceae

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Violales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • VIOLET FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: Small, sometimes stemless herbs with simple leaves; flowers bilaterally symmetrical, often nodding, with 5 separate petals, one of which is often spurred; stamens often with appendages or spurs; fruit a 3-valved capsule.

Diagnosis: Small annual or perennial herbs (ours), acaulescent or caulescent; leaves basal, alternate, or opposite, simple (sometimes with very leafy stipules and thus appearing compound), entire, toothed, or lobed; stipules absent, or slender and inconspicuous, or falling early, or large and leafy; flowers solitary, axillary or basal; sepals 5, slightly unequal; petals 5, unequal, the lowest one with widened or swollen base or projecting spur; stamens 5, separate, with large, separate or weakly united anthers and short filaments; pistil 3-carpellate; ovary superior; fruit a 3-valved capsule. Cleistogamous flowers (= closed with rudimentary petals, self-pollinating) are also usually produced, either under or above ground during summer and fall.


Notes: A medium-sized (900 species in 20 genera-H. Ballard, pers. comm.) cosmopolitan family of herbs, shrubs or even lianas or trees; alkaloids are often present. The family includes the ornamental VIOLETS and PANSIES (Viola). It is possibly related to the mostly tropical Flacourtiaceae. (subclass Dilleniidae).