Viola lanceolata (Lance-leaved Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bog White Violet, Strap-leaved Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Threatened
Habitat:sun; sandy or peaty soil; bogs, swamps, fens, wet meadows, wet depressions, along shores
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:2 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
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]  Irregular 5-petaled white flower up to ½ inch (to 12 mm) long at the end of a long naked stalk usually held above or among the leaves at peak bloom. Petals are tinged greenish-yellow at the base; the 2 lateral petals lack tufts of hair (not bearded). The lower petal has numerous dark reddish to purple veins radiating from the center, and forms a short spur at the back.

[photo of sepals and spur] Sepals are narrowly triangular to narrowly egg-shaped, pointed at the tip, and hairless.

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

[photo of leaves]  Leaves are all basal; color is medium green. Mature leaves are 1 to 6+ inches (to 15+ cm) long, to 1 inch (to 29 mm) wide, mostly 3 to 6 times as long as wide, narrowly lance-elliptic, blunt to pointed at the tip, tapering at the base, sometimes abruptly near the base. Leaf edges are typically very shallowly toothed, the teeth rounded and tend to be widely spaced. Surfaces and leaf stalks are hairless. Plants form colonies from above ground horizontal stems (stolons) produced in summer.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Both petalled (chasmogamous) and petal-less, self-pollinating (cleistogamous) flowers produce fruit, in an ovoid capsule up to ½ inch (4 to 12 mm) long, initially green, erect when mature and drying light brown.

[photo of seeds] Seeds are dark brown to dark olive-brown, 1.1 to 1.4 mm long.


According to the DNR, Lance-leaved Violet was listed as a State Special Concern species in 1984 and elevated to Threatened in 1996, due to habitat loss. Most of its natural habitat is within the Anoka Sandplain, and has been largely destroyed by development. This species is easy to ID by the leaves. It hybridizes with several other white violets, but any hybrids in Minnesota are not well documented.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: Christel - North Washington County, Forest Lake
on: 2015-05-14 07:29:45

I have a lot of these in a hay field. Noticed them a few years ago, and in the past couple years they have spread. Very pretty. I've been slowly planting natives in an area of my back yard, and am happy that nature is helping out with these:)

Posted by: Tina - Dodge County
on: 2016-05-12 23:02:45

Found several of these along Salem creek.

Posted by: Jason - Sherburne Co.
on: 2024-05-31 13:02:58

Found 10 of these plants growing on the edge of a fen in Uncas Dunes SNA today. Gorgeous!

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