Viola adunca (Sand Violet)
|Also known as:||Hooked-spur Violet, Western Dog Violet, Early Blue Violet|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; open woods, Jack pine forest, rock outcrops, rocky or sandy banks|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Irregular 5-petaled blue-violet flower ½ to 2/3 inch (to 16 mm) long at the end of a minutely hairy stalk arising from a leaf axil. The 2 lateral petals have small tufts of white hairs at the base (bearded). The lower petal is white at the base with dark purple veins radiating from the center, and forms a long spur at the back.
The spur is mostly straight but may curve upward or slightly downward. Sepals are narrowly triangular to lance-linear, pointed at the tip, hairless or minutely hairy along the midvein. There are typically 1 to 3 flowers per stem, rising above the leaves.
Leaves and stems:
There are both stem and basal leaves; color is blue-green. Leaves are up to 1½ inches (to 4 cm) long, ½ to 1 inch wide, egg-shaped to slightly heart-shaped to nearly round but generally longer than wide with a rounded or blunt tip, and on a long stalk, though these are not fully developed at flowering time. Leaf edges are scalloped to nearly toothless and often fringed with minute hairs; surfaces are minutely hairy, especially the lower surface.
At the base of a leaf stalk is a pair of leafy appendages (stipules) that are typically narrow with a few long, slender teeth or lobes. Stems are usually minutely hairy, rarely hairless, with multiple leafy stems arising from the base.
Both petalled (chasmogamous) and petal-less, self-pollinating (cleistogamous) flowers produce fruit, in an ovoid capsule up to about 1/3 inch (6 to 9 mm) long, initially green and dangling, becoming erect when mature and drying tan.
Sand Violet is most similar to Dog Violet (Viola labradorica a.k.a. V. conspersa), which also has both basal and stem leaves, but is hairless or nearly so, has paler flowers, yellow-green leaves that are more consistently round to kidney-shaped, and a preference for moister, loamy, peaty or mucky soils. These two violets have been known to hybridize, though there are no records of this hybrid in Minnesota.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Vermillion Falls, Dakota County and Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?