Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Ubiquitous in lawns, and there are some unaccountably dour types who try to eradicate it. Violets cause no harm; they never grow too high and are easily mowed, and they give us flowers like these, which were blooming on Easter Sunday in the middle of April in a lawn in Mount Lebanon. If you think nothing but identical blades of grass should make up a lawn, then you miss half the poetry of having a plot of land in the first place.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAGray, with assistance from Brainerd, describes the genus and the species:

VIOLA [Tourn.] L. VIOLET, HEART’S-EASE. [Revised by E. Brainerd.] Petals somewhat unequal, the lower one spurred at the base. Stamens closely surrounding the ovary, often slightly cohering with each other; the two lower bearing spurs which project into the spur of the corolla. Besides these conspicuous blossoms, which appear in spring, others are produced later, on shorter peduncles or on runners, often concealed under the leaves; these never open nor develop petals, but are fertilized in the bud and are far more fruitful than the ordinary blossoms. — The closely allied species of the same section, when growing together, often hybridize with each other, producing forms that are confusing to the student not familiar with the specific types. The hybrids commonly display characters more or less intermediate between those of the parents, and show marked vegetative vigor but greatly impaired fertility. (The ancient Latin name of the genus.)

Plants stemless, the leaves and scapes directly from a rootstock or from runners.

Style dilated upward in a vertical plane, capitate, with a conical beak on the lower side; stigma within the tip of the beak.

Rootstock fleshy and thickened, without runners; petals violet-blue to purple, the lateral bearded (Blue Violets).

Leaves heart-shaped, the margins merely eremite-serrate.

Plants more or less pubescent.

Leaves all undivided.

Spurred petal glabrous or bearing only scattered hairs; capsules 8—12 mm. long.

V. sororia. In size and habit like no. 7 (V. papillonacea), into which it passes; leaves villous-pubescent especially on the petioles and under surface when young; vernal flowers on peduncles about the length of the leaves, violet to lavender and occasionally white; outer sepals ovate-oblong, commonly obtuse, ciliolate below the middle and on the short rounded auricles; cleistogamous flowers ovoid, on short prostrate peduncles; capsules of these usually purple; seeds dark brown. (V. palmata, var. Pollard.) — Moist meadows, alluvial woods, shady hedges and dooryards, w. Que. to Minn., and southw.

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