Viola bicolor Pursh


Viola bicolor plant

Family - Violaceae

Stems - To 20cm tall, herbaceous, angled, glabrous or pubescent, from single taproot.

Leaves - Alternate, spatulate, glabrous, +2cm long, +5mm broad, entire to (few)coarsely toothed. Stipules deeply divided (palmately lobed), (divisions linear to oblong), glabrous, +1.5cm long, +1cm broad.

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 +4cm long, with two minute(-1mm) bracts near base of curve.

Flowers - Corolla zygomorphic, +/-1.5cm 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. Sepals 5, subulate to oblong-lanceolate, +/-5mm long, glabrous, with basal spur to +1.5mm long. Margins of sepals slightly darker green than rest of sepal.

Viola bicolor flower

Viola bicolor flower

Viola bicolor fruitYoung fruit

Flowering - March - May.

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

Origin - Native to U.S., probably.

Other info. - This is a tiny Viola which is quite abundant in the spring months. The corolla is variable in color but is typically as described above.
There is debate about whether our plants are native or not, but it would seems that they probably are. Different variations of the plant are found in Europe and Africa.
The plant produces inconspicuous cleistogamous flowers later in the year.
A commonly 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, and near Labadie, Franklin County, MO, 3-28-2018 (SRTurner).