Violet

An 'Exmoor Ponies in Conservation' project



Violet

Violet, common name for a family of flowering plants, and for its representative genus. The family contains about 830 species of herbs, shrubs, and even some woody vines and trees, almost half of which are in the predominantly herbaceous representative genus. Both natural species and hybrids of violets are widely grown. Wild species, often called heartsease, are grown for their blue or purple colour, fragrance, and interesting flower shapes and coloration patterns. Some, such as the sweet violet, have very short stems, and the leaves appear to emerge directly from the ground; others, however, have well-developed stems. Violets are easily hybridized, and many hundreds of types have been developed in shades of white and yellow. These are usually called pansies and are popular early spring flowers. Violets usually have alternate heart-shaped leaves with stipules (leaf-like appendages) at their bases. The stipules are easily examined by spreading the leaf bases. The flowers are irregular, but all have five sepals with a backward-projecting appendage, and the lowest of the five petals has a spur. In some species, especially the cultivated pansies, the petals are held flat, which, together with their markings, often gives the flower the appearance of a face. Many violets are sweet-scented, including the sweet violet of Europe and Asia. Important families related to the violets include the begonia, the gourd, and the passion flower families.

Some plants commonly called violets belong to other, unrelated groups of plants. For example, the African violet and the dogtooth violet belong to two unrelated families. Scientific classification: Violets make up the family Violaceae. The representative genus of the family is Viola. The sweet violet is classified as Viola odorata. African violets make up the genus Saintpaulia of the family Gesneriaceae. The dogtooth violet belongs to the family Liliaceae and is classified as Erythronium albidum.