Common Blue Violet

Common Blue Violet
Common Blue Violet. Viola sororia.
Violaceae, the violet family.

Plant: Low plant with basal leaves and solitary blue-violet to blue and white to white flowers on separate stems, hairless to hairy, blooming in early spring. Perennial.
Flowers: Blue-violet to blue and white striped to pure white, with five petals and five sepals. Solitary on long stems. The flowers are bilaterally symmetric; the lower petal is spurred, the and the two on either side bearded. Flowers and leaves are on separate basal stems, which distinguishes this violet from some other species.
Leaves: Basal, heart-shaped, 1"-3" wide, toothed or scalloped, on long stems. The leaves and stems may be hairless or hairy.
Fruit: A three-valved capsule.
Blooming: April-June
Habitat: Fields, lawns, clearings.

Comments: This is a highly variable species, with flowers ranging from deep blue to pure white, and in various combinations. We have provided a separate page for the white variant of this flower (common blue violet white), as it could well be taken as a different flower. Formerly, this group was divided into a number of species, separated by characteristics such as hairiness of the leaves. More recent practice has been to recognize a single, highly variable species. The flowers open in very early spring on some plants, others may bloom until late May or early June - another variable characteristic. The flowers of the blue violets are sometimes candied, and the leaves have been used in soups for their mucilaginous qualities similar to okra. The roots have a reputation for being emetic, and should probably not be eaten.

Where to find it: Widely scattered in lawn areas and wood boundaries. Not particularly common here, at least circa 2009.