Viola cucullata (Marsh Blue Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hooded Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:shade, sun; bogs and wet places
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

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flower] Single flower at the end of a long naked stem usually held well above the leaves at peak bloom. Flowers are about 1 inch across, irregular with 5 light blue to violet petals, white at the base, sometimes all white. At the base of the lateral petals are short hairs (beards), typically under 1 mm long that are club shaped with a conspicuously swollen tip. The lower spurred petal is beardless, has darker blue veins, and is typically shorter than the two lateral petals.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal, hairless, with small rounded teeth around the edges. Mature leaves are heart-shaped and can be up 4 inches wide, tapering to a blunt or rounded tip. Stems are hairless. It typically forms colonies from short branched rhizomes.


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.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka 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.

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