Viola bicolor Pursh

Johnny-Jump-Up, Field Pansy

Viola bicolor plant2

Family - Violaceae

Habit - Annual forb with a slender taproot.

Stems - Ascending to erect, to 25 cm, angled, glabrous or pubescent.

Leaves - Basal and alternate, stipulate, long-petiolate to nearly sessile. Stipules relatively large and leaflike, free from the petiole, deeply lobed with a fringe of several, long, linear or oblong-lanceolate segments on each side, the terminal segment similar to the lateral ones, entire or with 1-2 pair(s) of blunt or rounded teeth along the margins. Leaf blades 0.7-3.0 cm long, unlobed, obspatulate to nearly circular, rounded or angled to a bluntly or sharply pointed tip, truncate to rounded at the base, the margins otherwise entire or with 1-2 pair(s) of blunt or rounded teeth, the surfaces glabrous.

Viola bicolor basalsBasal leaves.

Viola bicolor leaf1Leaf, stipule, and stem.

Viola bicolor leavesLower and upper leaf respectively.

Viola bicolor stipuleStipule close-up.

Inflorescence - Single flowers from leaf axils. Peduncles typically exceeding leaves, glabrous, curved downward at apex, to 4 cm long, with two minute (1 mm) bracts near base of curve.

Viola bicolor inflorescenceInflorescence.

Flowers - Sepals 5, lanceolate, 3-5 mm long, glabrous, with basal spur to 1.5 mm long. Margins of sepals slightly darker green than interior. Corollas zygomorphic, 1.5 cm broad. Petals 5, distinct, typically bluish to whitish with purple lines. Lower petal with yellowish base near throat of corolla. Lateral petals bearded. Stamens 5. Stigma globose.

Viola bicolor flowerCorollas.

Fruits - Capsules 4-6 mm long, broadly ellipsoid, green drying to tan, the surface glabrous, enclosed within persistent sepals. Seeds 1.3-1.5 mm long, tan.

Viola bicolor fruitYoung fruit.

Viola bicolor fruit2Immature seeds.

Viola bicolor fruit3Dehiscent capsule.

Flowering - March - May.

Habitat - Fields, waste ground, disturbed sites, meadows, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S., probably.

Lookalikes - Viola tricolor, but this species is rare in Missouri.

Other info. - This tiny species of violet is quite abundant in the spring months. It is common across Missouri, and occurs throughout most of the eastern U.S. The depth of color of the corolla is quite variable, ranging from nearly white to almost purple. Identification in the field is easy based on general appearance. Although the very uncommon (in Missouri) V. tricolor can resemble Johnny-jump-up, the corollas of that species are normally much more deeply colored.

There has been controversy about whether this species is native or not. Yatskievych accepted it as so, following evidence presented by Shinners in 1961.

Plants in Missouri rarely produce cleistogamous flowers. A formerly used synonym is V. rafinesquii Greene.

Photographs taken in Vale, NC., 3-9-03 (DETenaglia); also at Pickle Springs, St. Genevieve County, MO, 4-26-2014, near Labadie, Franklin County, MO, 3-28-2018 and 5-1-2019, and Riverfront Park, Washington, Franklin County, MO, 5-13-2018 (SRTurner).


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