VIOLET FAMILY - Violaceae: Yellow Violets
Fine hairs on the erect, leafy, usually single stem of the Downy Yellow Violet (V. pubescens), whose dark veined, bright yellow petals gleam in dry woods in April and May, easily distinguish it from the Smooth Yellow Violet (V. scabriuscula), formerly considered a mere variety in spite of its being an earlier bloomer, a lover of moisture, and well equipped with basal leaves at flowering time, which the downy species is not. Moreover, it bears a paler blossom, more coarsely dentate leaves, often decidedly taper-pointed, and usually several stems together.
Bryant, whose botanical lore did not always keep step with his
Muse, wrote of the Yellow Violet as the first spring flower, because
he found it "by the snowbank's edges cold," one April day, when the
hepaticas about his home at Roslyn, Long Island, had doubtless been in
bloom a month.
"Of all her train the hands of Spring
First plant thee in the watery mould,"
he wrote, regardless of the fact that the round-leaved violet's preferences are for dry, wooded, or rocky hillsides. Müller believed that all violets were originally yellow, not white, after they developed from the green stage.