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Violet (plant)

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Violales
Family: Violaceae
Genus: Viola
Viola tricolor var. arvensis
Viola bicolor Pursh
Viola tricolor
Viola beckwithii
Viola nephrophylla
Violets (genus Viola) are flowers of the family Violaceae, common in Europe in slightly shaded conditions such as hedgerows. Violets are small perennial plants with large heart-shaped leaves which flower profusely in spring. This genus includes pansies and the smaller spreading plants known as either Johnny jump ups. There are two wild varieties, the most common having dark blue flowers, and the less commmon having white flowers - wild violets are not colored violet.

One quirk of the violet is its elusive scent - a major component of the scent is a ketone compound called ionone, which temporarily desensitises the receptors in the nose; sniff all you like, you won't get any more smell from the flower!

In North America, there are several different species of wild violets. Some are blue, some are yellow, white, or cream; some are even bicolored. In addition, the shape of the petals defines more species; for example, some violets have a "spur" on the end of each petal. The violet is the state flower of Rhode Island.

The common commercial African violets are usually a deep purple (though they can also produce pink flowers), and are derived from a few specimens collected in South Africa; the species is threatened in the wild.

Australia is home to a number of small 'native' violets. These have low-lying clusters of green foliage and very small white to pale purple flowers.