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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.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 450 species, chiefly temperate regions. Australia: c. 16 species (3 species naturalized), Qld, N.S.W., Vic., Tas., S.A.

Key in part modified from Thiele & Prober (2003) New Species and a new hybrid in the Viola hederacea species complex, with notes on Viola hederacea Labill. Muelleria 18: 7–25

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
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6
6Flowers on short scapes hidden among the leaves; petals scarsely exceeding the sepals7
Flowers on scapes as long or longer than the leaves; petals clearly longer than the sepals
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8
7Flowers blackish-violet; lower petal c. 2 mm wide, obovate or elliptic; usually montaine plantsViola fuscoviolacea
flowers cream or white, often with a purplish tinge towards the centre; lower petal c. 1 mm wide, linear to oblong; lowland plants
                       Back to 6
Viola cleistogamoides
8Well developed leaves twice as wide as long or wider; flowers concolorous pale bluish; stems often caulescent; habitat on sandstone in New South WalesViola silicestris
Leaves not much wider than long, or, if about twice as wide as as long then flowers distinctly discolourous
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9
9Anterior petal more or less rectangular10
Anterior petal ovate, almost circular or obovate-obcuneate
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11
10Flowers more or less concolorous pale blue; plants small; leaf base usually cuneate, tapering to petioleViola sieberiana
Flowers discolorous dark violet and paler violet; plants robust, often trailing; leaf base usually broadly cordate
                       Back to 9
Viola sp. Sassafras (K.R.Thiele 5425)
11Anterior petal broadest in the distal third, its venation usually somewhat irregular, petals petals with indistinct demarcation between violet and white colouration; seeds dull, cream to brown, usually mottled12
Anterior petal broadest in the proximal third or the middle, regularly triplinerved, petals with distinct demarcation between violet and white colouration; seeds glossy purple-black
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13
12Leaves usually more or less semicircular, glabrous to sparsely hairy; flowers usually discolorous, deep violet in the centre, gradually blending into white at the tipsViola hederacea
Leaves suborbicular to reniform with a deep sinus, softly hairy; flowers more or less concolorous, violet to the tips but often white in the centre
                       Back to 11
Viola perreniformis
13Anterior petal broadest in the middle; leaves reniform to orbicular, about as long as wide, often with a deep, narrow sinus; lowland, often coastal plantsViola banksii
Anterior petal usually broadest in the proximal third; leaves reniform, wider than long, with a broad sinus or truncate; alpine to montaine plants in eastern Australia (at lower altitudes in SA)
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Viola eminens

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