Parma violets are reputed for their double, fragrant flowers and have been cultivated for centuries in Europe. However, due to a rather atypical morphology their taxonomic affinity has not been clarified. Authors have proposed an origin from three possible species, Viola alba, V. odorata, or V. suavis, or a hybrid origin. Using both ITS sequence variation and allozyme variation in 14 putative ... [Show full abstract] loci, we showed that the Parma violet cultivars have their origin within Viola alba and that they are best included in the Mediterranean subsp. dehnhardtii. There is no trace of interspecific hybridization. However, the cultivars appear to have a single origin in a wide hybrid within V. alba, involving parental plants from the eastern and western Mediterranean region; historical literature sources seem to indicate Turkey and Italy, respectively. The Parma violet cultivars possess high levels of allozyme heterozygosity and to some extent also within-individual ITS sequence variation. Losses of heterozygosity and within-individual ITS sequence variation in some of the cultivars indicate subsequent rare events of sexual reproduction, presumably through cleistogamous seed set. We unambiguously identify the closest wild relative of this group of cultivars, allowing growers to develop new selection procedures, and show a peculiar molecular process associated with human selection.