Viola pedata (Birdfoot Violet)
|Also known as:||Beardless Birdfoot Violet|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; prairies, open woods|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single, slightly irregular 5-petaled flower 1 to 1½ inches across at the end of a hairless, leafless stem that rises above the leaves. Petals are lavender to purple, the lower petal fading to white at the base with a few dark purple lines. A tight group of orange stamens projects from the center. The side petals are hairless (“beardless”).
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are basal, hairless, ¾ to 1½ inches long and wide on stalks to 2 inches long, the blades deeply lobed palmate-fashion into narrow segments, typically with 3 main lobes that are further divided. The outer basal leaves are typically smaller than the inner basal leaves. Stems are green or tinged purple.
Fruit is a capsule that splits into 3 sections and contains numerous copper colored seeds.
Birdfoot Violet may be confused for Prairie Violet (Viola pedatifida), which is found in the same habitat, blooming about the same time, and also has palmately lobed leaves. The easiest way to tell them apart is whether or not the flowers are bearded. Prairie Violet is bearded, and has smaller flowers. Most references note that sometimes Birdfoot Violet has dark purple upper petals and lighter lower petals, but I have not seen this in the wild in Minnesota.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Anoka County, McKnight Prairie in Dakota County, and a residential garden in Lino Lakes.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?