Violets may grow their flowers and leaves directly from the root. Other species produce stems that lift their leaves and flowers above the ground. It's one of the keys to differentiating the species. But you have to be careful. In some situations, or very early in the season, the stems can be so short they're hard to see. Cream violets are one of the stemmed variety.
The Iroquois used infusions of this plant to make people sick and crazy.