Viola sororia Willd.
Viola sororia Willd. f. priceana (Pollard) Cooperr.
Viola floridana Brainerd
Viola latiuscula Greene
Viola papilionacea Pursh p.p.
Viola papilionacea Pursh var. priceana (Pollard) Alexander
Viola palmata L. var. sororia (Willd.) Pollard
Viola priceana Pollard
Common Blue Violet, Woolly Blue Violet, Common Wood Violet, Broad-leaved Wood Violet
These hardy, abundant perennials poke up early in the spring. They are common in woods, thickets, stream banks, pastures, and disturbed soils. They seem happiest in partial shade, but if there is enough dampness in the soil, they tolerate full sun.
Plants: Plants are low to the ground, about 4-8" (10-20 cm) high and 6" (15 cm) around.
Leaves: Leaves are up to 3" (7.6 cm) long, usually closer to 1" (2.5 cm), on long petioles (stems). They are usually dark green, but may appear lighter and more yellowish under full sun. They are roughly heart-shaped, with crenate or serrate edges. Some are hairy; some aren’t.
Flowers: Flowers are a shade of violet or blue, rarely white, and even more rarely bicolored. They are about ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) in size, have a total of five petals, and have bilateral symmetry. That’s fancy botanist talk for mirror images: if you cut the flower in half vertically, the two sides are mirror images of each other. There are two petals on top, and two lower side petals, and a bottom petal that serves as a landing strip for visiting pollinators. The two side petals have white hairs near the center of the flower. Flowers appear from March to June. They tend to droop. Flowers and leaves are on separate stems. Although the genus, Viola, means sweet-scented, common violets have no detectable odor.
Fruits: Three-part whitish seed capsules dry and explode, flinging lots of seeds.
Edibility: Violet leaves are high in vitamins A and C, and are cooked as greens or added raw to salads. Flowers can be used to make candies or jellies.
Viola sororia at Illinois Wildflowers
Viola sororia at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Viola sororia on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Viola sororia on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org
Viola sororia on eFloras
Viola sororia on michiganflora.net
Viola sororia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 9 Jul 2019.
Range: Zones 3-7: