Perennial or occasionally annual herbs or shrubs (mostly in warmer climates), rarely trees or climbers. Leaves mostly alternate, simple, occasionally lobed or divided; stipules small. Flowers bisexual or occasionally unisexual, mostly regular. Sepals 5. Petals 5, free, the lower one often extended into a spur or pouch. Stamens 5. Ovary superior with 1 chamber; placentation parietal. Carpels mostly 3, fused together. Fruit a capsule or berry (rarely a nut); seeds 1, 2 or many, occasionally winged.
Viola odorata has essential oils used in flavouring, perfumery and food decoration. Medicinally the root of Hybanthus ipecacuana is used as an emetic known as Ipecac. Other genera have some medicinal, mostly emetic, properties.
Perianth bilaterally symmetric, lower petals often extended into a spur or pouch; petals and stamens 5; carpels 3, united.
23 genera and about 930 species, cosmopolitan, mostly temperate and tropical montane (Australia has 3 native genera and about 26 species).
Source: (1997). Violaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.