Violaceae (alternatively Alsodeiaceae J.G.Agardh, Leoniaceae DC. and Retrosepalaceae Dulac) is a family of flowering plants consisting of about 800 species in 21 genera. It takes its name from the genus Viola, the violets and pansies.
Older classifications such as the Cronquist system placed Violaceae in an order named after it, the Violales. However, newer classifications such as that of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group locate it in the Malpighiales.
Plants are normally perennial herbs but some species are also annuals, or shrubs. The simple leaves are alternate or rarely opposite, often with leafy stipules or the stipules are reduced in size. Some species have palmate shaped leaves or deeply dissected leaves. Many species are acaulescent. Inflorescence with solitary flowers or paniculate like, some species have cleistogamous flowers produced after or before the production of typically petaled flowers. Flowers are bisexual, typically zygomorphic or actinomorphic with a calyx of five sepals that are persistent after flowering. Corolla with 5 mostly unequal petals, the anterior petal larger and often spurred. Plants with five stamens with the abaxial stamen often spurred at the base. The gynoecium is a compound pistil of three united carpels with one locule. Styles simple, ovary superior, ovules many. The fruits are capsules splitting by way of three seams. Seeds with endosperm.