Viola cucullata (Marsh Blue Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hooded Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:shade, sun; moist to wet; swamps, bogs, wet ditches, floodplains, seeps, woods, stream and river banks, rock crevices
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of flower] Irregular 5-petaled blue-violet flower ½ to nearly 1 inch (to 23 mm) long at the end of a long naked stalk usually held well above the leaves at peak bloom. The 2 lateral petals have small tufts of white hairs at the base (bearded), the hairs typically under 1 mm long and club shaped with a conspicuously swollen tip. The lower petal is white at the base with dark purple veins radiating from the center, and forms a short spur at the back.

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

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal; color is light to medium green. Mature leaves are up to 4 inches (to 10 cm) long, to 2½ inches wide, heart-shaped with a blunt or pointed tip. Leaf edges are scalloped or have blunt serrations, with fewer, shallower teeth near the tip; surfaces are hairless, sometimes sparsely hairy on the upper surface. Leaf stalks are hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing cleistogamous fruit] Both petalled (chasmogamous) and petal-less, self-pollinating (cleistogamous) flowers produce fruit, in an ovoid capsule up to about ½ inch (10 to 15 mm) long, initially green, erect when mature and drying tan.

[photo of seeds] Seeds are dark brown to dark reddish-brown, 1.4 to 1.9 mm long.


Marsh Blue Violet can thrive in both sun or shade as long as the site is moist. The plant structure at peak bloom, with flowers rising well above the leaves, is similar to Northern Bog Violet (Viola nephrophylla). Prior to this stage it may more closely resemble Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia). All 3 species have only basal leaves and bearded blue-violet flowers, but the hairs on V. cucullata are distinctly different—short and stubby compared to the others. V. cucullata hybridizes with several other violets, but violet hybrids are not well documented in Minnesota.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens

More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County, at Banning State Park in Pine County, and at Prairie Resto's Scandia retail store.


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

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2017-05-13 22:58:46

I think this violet grows along with the common blue violet in my parents' yard. It is smaller and neater (growing in tighter clumps) than the common blue violet, and the leaves are smooth, while those of the common blue violet are slightly pleated. Strangely, it seems to do fine all over the yard, even though the soil dries out pretty often. I doubted it could be the marsh violet because of that, but I don't know what else it could be.

Posted by: Ronnie - Freeborn
on: 2024-04-30 17:39:46

Found some at work just about to be mowed so I dug them out and reassembled the turf nicely and let him continue mowing. They will do nicely in that lowspot in my yard.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.