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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Violaceae (pansy and violet family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Malpighiales

Twenty-three genera and about 800 species worldwide (mainly tropical but the large Viola genus occurs predominantly in temperate regions), of which three genera and 13 species are native to southern Africa, three species are naturalised, and an additional genus and nine species are cultivated in the region.

Genera native in southern Africa

List from Bredenkamp (2000).


About 100 species (tropics and subtropics, mainly South and Central America), with three species native to southern Africa and one species that has become naturalised.



About 250 species (tropics and subtropics), with eight species native to southern Africa.

Viola (pansy and violet genus)

About 400 to 600 species (cosmopolitan, mainly north temperate regions), with two species native to southern Africa and two that have become naturalised. There are an additional eight species that are cultivated in southern Africa. There are many garden cultivars, known as garden pansies, violas or violettas that are derived from the complex hybridization of Viola tricolor, Viola lutea, Viola cornuta, and other species.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Information from Glen (2002).


Hymenanthera crassifolia, from New Zealand, is cultivated in southern Africa.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Violaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 559-560. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.