Viola sagittata (Arrow-leaved Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Arrowhead Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to wet sandy soil; sand dunes, meadows, prairies, open woods, rock outcrops, swamp margins, sandy shores
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flowers, sepals and spur] Irregular 5-petaled blue to purple flower ¾ to 1 inch (to 26 mm) long at the end of a long naked stalk held above the leaves at peak bloom. Petals are white at the base, the 2 lateral petals with tufts of fine white hairs at the base (bearded). The lower petal has dark purple veins radiating from the center and forms a slightly elongated spur at the back, and is also bearded but more sparsely and the hairs more scattered. Sepals are lance-linear to narrowly triangular, pointed at the tip, and hairless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of mature leaf] Leaves are all basal and form a rosette; color is green. Mature leaves are up to 3¼ inches (to 83 mm) long, usually at least 1.5 times long as wide, blunt at the tip. Early leaves are typically lance-elliptic to rounded triangular, with shallowly toothed edges and with or without small lobes at the base of the blade. Primary leaves are more arrowhead shaped, becoming erect, elongated and less regularly toothed, the basal lobes becoming more distinct and divided. Edges are often fringed with short hairs; surfaces are hairy or not, the lower surface may be purple-tinged. Leaf stalks are mostly hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Both petalled (chasmogamous) and petal-less, self-pollinating (cleistogamous) flowers produce fruit, in an ovoid capsule up to about ½ inch (8 to 14 mm) long, initially green, erect when mature and drying tan or greenish-brown. Seeds are medium to dark brown, tinged pinkish or reddish, 1.2 to 1.8 mm long.


A species of moist open woods, sandy open spaces and granite outcrops, Arrow-leaved Violet can respond quickly from the seed bank following a fire. Populations diminish as other successional plants re-establish and the seed bank once more waits for another fire event. It is most easily distinguished from other violets by the shape of the leaves; early and young leaves tend to be triangular in outline, elongating and developing the basal lobing or toothing with age.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka county and in his garden.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Misty - Chisholm
on: 2015-06-05 16:56:28

I keep seeing these wildflowers on the ground. I had to look it up, glad to put a name to the flower.

Posted by: Gary - St. Louis County
on: 2019-01-24 08:31:23

In 2004 in a jack pine (primarily)forest near the Dunka Road.

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