Pansies represent just one of the over 500 different violet species in the Viola genus. Some of the most beautiful of our native plants are violets. Blue violet is the state flower of Illinois. Violets can be found blooming March through May in every county in Illinois. Violets are also important larval hosts for fascinating Fritillary butterflies. Garden pansies and violas come in just about every color and color combination. They may be a single clear color such as blue or yellow. The single color might also have lines radiating from the center. Or the flowers can be multicolored with a "face-like" dark blotch.
Even though they are all in the Viola genus, gardeners generally lump violets into two groups.The first group includes true violets such as Tufted violet, Viola cornuta and Sweet violet, Viola odorata which are perennial. Sweet violet is the common purple violet in our yards and gardens. The second group of pansies and violas gets the most press.