Viola sororia Willd.

Sister Violet

Viola sororia plant

Family - Violaceae

Stems - A thick underground caudex. Aerial stems absent.

Leaves - All arising from base of plant. Petioles to +15cm long, hirsute, with single longitudinal groove. Blades of lower leaves rounded at apex, reniform, or ovate, crenate to serrate, pubescent. Upper leaf blades cordate at base, gradually tapering to an acute or blunt apex, serrate, densely pubescent(hirsute), to +5cm broad, +5cm long.

Viola sororia plant Upper leaves.

Inflorescence - Single flowers on long peduncles from base of plant. Peduncles to +10cm long, hirsute, curved at apex, with pair of opposite or sub-opposite bracts in upper half. Bracts 3-4mm long.

Viola sororia peduncle

Flowers - Corolla violet, +2cm broad and long. Petals 5, fading to pale yellow at base, with dark venation near base. Lateral petals bearded. Lower petal spurred. Stamens 5, connate around ovary. Bottom two stamens with flattened curved nectaries to +3mm long. Ovary conic, -3mm long. Style to -2mm long, truncate and triangular at apex. Sepals 5, to 9mm long, 3mm broad, mostly glabrous or very sparsely pubescent, topmost one recurved. Auricles 1mm long, rounded at base.

Viola sororia calyxCalyx.

Viola sororia flower

Flowering - March - June.

Habitat - Slopes, open and low woods, thickets, streambanks.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a common violet in the state. It greatly resembles other plants in the genus but differs in having the typically densely pubescent leaves and peduncles. The leaves can grow larger than what I posted above but the above numbers are the typical leaf size at anthesis, and this is when most people are likely to be paying attention to the plants.
Steyermark lists two forms based on corolla color. Form sororia, shown above, has the typical blue-purple corolla. Form Beckwithae House has a white corolla and is rare.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 4-12-03.