A genus of flowering plants in the violet family Violaceae, with around 400–500 species distributed around the world. Most species are found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, however viola species (commonly called violets, pansies or heartsease) are also found in widely divergent areas such as Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes in South America.
Most Viola species are tiny perennial plants, some are annual plants, and a few are small shrubs. A number of species are grown for their ornamental flowers in borders and rock gardens; the garden pansy in particular is an extensively used spring and autumn/winter bedding and pot plant. Viola and violetta are terms used by gardeners and generally in horticulture for neat, small-flowered hybrid plants intermediate in size between pansies and violets.