Table of Contents for Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) is a herbaceous perennial that is found in the mid-western and eastern United States and a number of provinces in Canada, except the far west. This plant is a host plant to a species of butterfly and a number of bees. The purple flowers are often encountered in lawns, but are also a common woodland flower. Violets (Viola spp.) are hosts to a number of fritillary butterflies.
Taxonomy and Naming of Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) was first named and described by Carl Ludwig Willdenow, a German Botanist in 1809. It has kept this name since, but for a long time this species was considered Viola papilionacea, a name given by Frederick Traugott Pursh, a German-American botanist in 1813. However, since V. sororia was named first it is the correct name according to botanical nomenclature rules. This plant is a member of the Violet Family (Violaceae).
Synonyms (from BONAP)
- Viola latiuscula
- Viola floridana
- Viola papilionacea
- Viola priceana
- Viola palmata var. sororia
- Viola papilionacea var. priceana
Meaning of the Scientific and Common Names
The genus name, Viola, is from the Latin name for “sweet-scented flowers.” (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Common Name and Alternative Names
The common name describes the abundant nature of this violet. Other alternative names describe the color such as purple violet and woolly blue violet. Some describe the habitat and include wood violet and meadow blue violet and one describes the flower, hooded violet.
- Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
- Height: about 6 inches, plant stemless (acaulescent) and spreads out in a clump.
- Leaves: alternate, simple, crenate (sometimes serrate) 3 to 6 inches in length and width, the leaves can appear waxy, glossy, or woolly
- Flower color: purple, pink, blue or white with a white center, some varieties can be freckled with white and blue
- Blooming period: March to May depending on location
- Fruiting type and period: capsule that matures in the late spring to summer
Violets have two flowers, one underground (Cleistogamous) and one above ground (Chasmogamous). The above describes the flower that is above ground.
Range of Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) in the United States and Canada
This species is native in the mid-west and eastern United States. In Canada, it is found in most of the eastern Provinces and the Northwest Territories. It is considered rare in Saskatchewan.
Common blue violet is very adaptable and is found in a lot of different habitats such as wooded areas, lawns, gardens, roadsides, and fields.
Violets (Viola spp.) are hosts to a number of fritillary butterflies. The common blue violet in particular is a host to the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele).
Other Supported Wildlife
The common blue violet is an important nectar plant in the spring for a number of bees including Mason Bees, Halictid Bees, and Mining Bees (Wikipedia).
- Violets are known as the symbol of love (Wikipedia).
- Common blue violet (Viola sororia) is the state flower of four US states (Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Wisconsin).
Gardening with Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
Common blue violet is hardy in zones 3-7. If your garden is within these zones, you can grow it even if you are not within the native range and have the right soil, moisture, and sun exposure. In some cases, if you are a distance from the native range, it may not host any species, if they are not in the same area.