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  • Violaceae Batsch

This family is accepted.


Violaceae, C. Grey-wilson. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1986

Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees
Leaves spirally arranged, rarely opposite or verticillate, simple, entire or toothed, rarely dissected; stipules present, small or foliaceous, the margin often ciliate or laciniate
Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, solitary or in a simple or compound inflorescence, often thyrsoid, terminal or axillary, usually hermaphrodite, sometimes unisexual on separate plants
Sepals 5, free or united near the base, usually persistent
Petals 5, free, equal or unequal, the anterior one (lowermost in flower) sometimes spurred, imbricate, generally deciduous
Stamens 5, antisepalous, the lower pair (anterior) in zygomorphic flowers each with an appendage which projects into the spur and which secretes nectar; filaments free or united wholly or partly into a ring around the ovary; anthers introrse, usually with a prominent connective appendage, sometimes with thecal appendages also
Ovary sessile, ± ovoid, 1-locular, with (2–)3, 4 or 5 parietal placentas; style solitary, often thickened towards the stigma, which is generally undivided
Fruit a loculicidal capsule, generally splitting into 3 wide-spreading contractile valves, rarely a nut or berry
Seeds generally with ample endosperm, occasionally arillate


Paula-Souza, J. & Ballard Jr, H.E. (2009). Neotropical Violaceae.


Herbs, subshrubs, shrubs, treelets or trees, less frequently lianas. Leaves alternate or less frequently opposite or pseudo- whorled , entire , serrate (the teeth bearing a terminal gland ) or rarely pinnatifid or lobed ; stipules present, persistent or deciduous . Inflorescences of fascicles, simple or compound cymes, (pseudo-) racemes, or flowers solitary, axillary . Flowers actinomorphic to strongly zygomorphic , bisexual or rarely unisexual, hypogynous; pedicels often articulated, bracteoles often present; aestivation usually apotact or less frequently quincuncial or convolute; sepals 5, free , equal or slightly unequal, rarely strongly unequal, persistent ; petals 5, free , equal or strongly unequal in zygomorphic flowers, the lowest petal being usually bigger and gibbose or spurred; stamens 5 or rarely 3, free or the filaments fused, anthers usually with a dorsal membranous connective appendage , the filaments usually with nectar glands (in zygomorphic flowers the large nectaries are born on the filaments of the 2 dorsal stamens and are enclosed in the lowest petal's sac or spur); ovary 3-carpellate or rarely 2-4-carpellate, ovules 1-many with  parietal placentation, style straight, curved or sigmoid . Fruit usually a leathery capsule , less frequently a woody or papery, bladder-like capsule , rarely a " berry " or nut ; seeds ( sub -) globose or less frequently strongly flattened and winged , discoid or irregularly angled, sometimes arillate, glabrous or less frequently pubescent .

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Amphirrhox Spreng. - S Central America, N South America and E coast of  South America.
  • Anchietea A.St.-Hil. - Widespread in South America.
  • Corynostylis Mart. Gloeospermum Triana & Planch. - Central America, N South America.
  • Fusispermum Cuatrec. - S Central America, N South America.
  • Hekkingia H.E.Ballard & Munzinger - French Guiana, N Brazil (Roraima).
  • Hybanthopsis Paula-Souza - endemic to Bahia state (Brazil).
  • Hybanthus Jacq. - Widespread.
  • Leonia Ruiz & Pav. - N South America.
  • Mayanaea Lundell - Guatemala.
  • Noisettia Kunth - N South America and E coast of South America.
  • Orthion Standl. & Steyerm. - Central America.
  • Paypayrola Aubl. - S Central America, N South America.
  • Rinorea Aubl. - Central America, N South America and E coast of South America.
  • Rinoreocarpus Ducke - N South America.
  • Schweiggeria Spreng. - E Brazil.
  • Viola L. - Widespread (mainly Central America and W South America).
Other important characters
  • Ovarysuperior, 3-carpellate with parietal placentation.
  • Stipules present (although sometimes deciduous).
  • Glands present at the tip of teeth on serrate leaves.
  • Anthers provided with membranous connective appendages.
  • Filaments provided with nectarglands.
Notable genera and distinguishing features
  • Lianescent habit and strongly flattened seeds in Anchietea, Corynostylis and Hybanthopsis.
  • Pappery, bladder-like capsules in Anchietea and Hybanthopsis.
  • Capsules opening by a single londitudinal slit in Hybanthopsis.
  • Auriculate sepals and pedicels not articulated in Viola.
  • Sepals strongly unequal in Schweiggeria.
  • Aestivation of petals convolute in Fusispermum.
General Description
Number of genera

17 genera:

  • Amphirrhox  
  • Anchietea 
  • Corynostylis
  • Fusispermum
  • Gloeospermum  
  • Hekkingia
  • Hybanthopsis
  • Hybanthus
  • Leonia
  • Mayanaea
  • Noisettia
  • Orthion
  • Paypayrola 
  • Rinorea
  • Rinoreocarpus
  • Schweiggeria
  • Viola
  • All genera are endemic to the Neotropical region, except for Hybanthus, Rinorea and Viola.
Important literature

Eichler, A.W. 1871. Violaceae. In: Martius, K.F.P & Eichler, A.W. (eds.) Flora Brasiliensis. Monachii, Typographia Regia. 13 (1): 345-396.

Hekking, W. H. A. 1984. Studies on neotropical Violaceae: The genus Fusispermum. Proc. Kon. Ned. Akad. Wetensch., C 87(2): 121-130.

Hekking, W.H.A. 1988. Violaceae (Rinorea and Rioneocarpus). In: Flora Neotropica: 46 (1). The New York Botanical Garden. New York. 207p.

Morton, C.V. 1944. The genus Hybanthus in continental North America. Contr. US. Natl. Herb. 29: 74-82.

Munzinger, J.K & Ballard, H.E. 2003. Hekkingia (Violaceae), a New Arborescent Violet Genus from French Guiana, with a Key to Genera in the Family. Syst. Bot. 28 (2): 345-351.

Paula-Souza, J. & Souza, V.C. 2003a. Hybanthopsis, a new genus of Violaceae from Eastern Brazil. Brittonia. New York, U.S.A. 55 (2): 206 - 210.

Robyns, A. 1957. In: Woodson, R.E. & Schery, R.W. Flora of Panama. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 54: 65-84.

Schulze, G.K. 1936. Morphologisch-systematische Studien über die Gattung Hybanthus mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der südamerikanischen Arten. Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 67: 437-492.

Smith, L.B. & Fernandéz-Pérez, A. 1954. Revisio Violacearum Colombiae. Caldasia 6 (28): 83-181.

Sparre, B. 1950. Estudios sobre las Violaceas Argentinas. Lilloa 23: 515-574.

Standley, P.C. & Williams, L.O. 1961. Flora of Guatemala 8. Fieldiana, Bot. 24, 7 (1): 70-82.

Okuoka, T. 2008. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Violaceae (Malpighiales) based on plastid and nuclear DNA sequences. J.Plant Res. 121: 253-260.


Violaceae, N. K. B. Robson. Flora Zambesiaca 1:1. 1960

Shrubs or perennial or annual herbs (more rarely trees)
Leaves alternate (rarely opposite or whorled), simple, entire or serrate to dentate (rarely ± dissected), usually with 2 stipules
Flowers actinomorphic or, more often, ± zygomorphic, bisexual (rarely polygamous or dioecious)
Sepals 5, free or shortly united, quincuncial or open in bud, usually persistent
Petals 5, free, equal or ± unequal, the anterior one frequently ± spurred, imbricate, usually deciduous, alternating with the sepals
Stamens 5, antisepalous, similar or ± dissimilar, the anterior pair in zygomorphic flowers with appendages which project into the spur, filaments free ± united, often forming a cylinder round the ovary; anthers usually introrse, free ± united, usually with a prolongation of the connective
Ovary free, sessile, usually ± ovoid, 1-locular, with (2) 3 (4–5) parietal placentas each bearing 1–? ovules; styles completely united, usually thickened above, often ± S-shaped in zygomorphic flowers, stigma usually undivided
Fruit a loculicidal capsule usually with contractile carinate valves, rarely a berry or nut
Seeds sometimes with a small aril, usually with abundant endosperm


Violaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:1. 1954

Herbs, shrubs, or small trees
Leaves alternate or rarely opposite, stipulate
Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, from solitary to paniculate
Sepals 5, imbricate
Petals 5, nearly equal or the lower larger and often clawed, imbricate
Stamens hypogynous, 5, alternate with the petals; anthers 2-celled, opening lengthwise, with the connective produced beyond the cells
Ovary superior, sessile, 1-celled, with usually 3 parietal placentas each with one or more ovules; style usually simple
Fruit an elastic loculicidal capsule, one- or more-seeded
Seeds with fleshy endosperm and central mostly straight embryo

Violaceae Batsch appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Tab. Affin. Regni Veg. 57. 1802 [2 May 1802] (as "Violariae") (1802)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.