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Genus Viola Family Violaceae

Description: Herbs, often stoloniferous.

Leaves alternate, cauline or radical; lamina ± circular to lanceolate, margins toothed, crenate or ± entire, petiolate; stipules present, usually leafy.

Flowers solitary on axillary scapes with a pair of bracteoles near or below the middle. Sepals produced into small basal appendages. Lower petal spurred or pouched at base, lateral petals often bearded within. Anthers with a flat membranous appendage; the 2 lowest anthers with a spur at the base. Ovary glabrous or hairy; style usually bent.

Capsule globose to cylindrical opening into 3 boat-shaped valves; seeds 2–many.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 450 species, chiefly temperate regions. Australia: c. 9 species (3 species naturalized), Qld, N.S.W., Vic., Tas., S.A.

Species 6–8 are treated here at species level as opposed to their subspecific ranking under V. hederacea, in Adams & George (1982).

Text by T. A. James
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Annual or biennial; stipules to 4 cm long, green, deeply lobed; lower petal broad-cuneateViola arvensis
Perennials; stipules small, often brownish, translucent; lower petal ovate to linear-oblong2
2Plants not stoloniferous but stems sometimes elongated and decumbent; lower petal spurred; flowers scentless; styles thickened towards apex3
Plants stoloniferous, stems rarely elongated; lower petal shallowly pouched but lacking a spur or if spurred then flowers sweetly scented;style not apically thickened
                       Back to 1
5
3Stems lax, elongated; leaves cauline, lamina heart-shaped4
Stems erect, short; leaves radical, lamina lanceolate to oblong, the base cuneate or shallowly cordate
                       Back to 2
Viola betonicifolia
4Stipules frimbriate; corolla blue violet; uncommon garden escape (recorded only in Central Tablelands in NSW)Viola riviniana
Stipules entire or sparcely toothed; corolla white or rarely pale violet(recorded from coast and tableland regions of NSW)
                       Back to 3
Viola caleyana
5Petiole with short deflexed hairs, flowers strongly scented; lower petal spurred; capsule hairyViola odorata
Petiole glabrous, or if hairy the hairs not deflexed; flowers scentless or faintly scented; lower petal not spurred; capsule usually glabrous
                       Back to 2
6
6Flowers mostly discolorous, petals 7–15 mm long7
Flowers usually concolourous, petals less than 7 mm long
                       Back to 5
9
7Leaves reniform to semicircular, more often wider than longer; flowers discolourous violet and white8
Leaves orbicular with a deep sinus, flowers strongly discolourous, bright violet with prominent white tips
                       Back to 6
Viola banksii
8Flower colour usually not strongly demarcated (occasionally concolourous pale violet to almost white); anther glands purplish or dull greenViola hederacea
Flower colour strongly demarcated (sometimes sub-concolourous, dark violet and pale violet); anther glands whitish green, never purple
                       Back to 7
Viola eminens
9Flower scapes exceeding the leaves; flowers pale mauve to white, petals 4–7 mm long10
Flower scapes usually shorter than or scarcely exceeding the leaves; flowers blackish violet or cream, petals less than 4 mm long
                       Back to 6
11
10Leaves narrow spathulate usually 2–4 times longer than wider, with the top of the leaf curved; the acute terminal tooth distinctly larger than the lateral teethViola sieberiana
Leaves usually reniform usually 1–5 times wider than long; with the top of the leaf almost flat; the central tooth no larger than the lateral teeth
                       Back to 9
Viola silicestris
11Corolla blackish violet, lower petal c. 2 mm wide, obovate to ellipticViola fuscoviolacea
Corolla cream, often with a purplish tinge towards the centre; lower petal c. 1 mm wide, linear to oblong
                       Back to 9
Viola cleistogamoides

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