Perennial, having stems, and yellow flowers. In open woods. Maine to Minnesota and Nebraska, south to Georgia and Texas. Frequent in northern Ohio. March, April.
Simple, erect, downy.
Basal leaves ovate-reniform, long-petioled, early withering; stem-leaves borne near the summit, short-petioled, ovate or reniform, crenate-dentate, and softly hairy to the touch.
Bright yellow, veined with dull purple; the lower petal conspicuously veined; the lateral petals bearded; spur short; capsule oblong.
Pollinated by bees, flies, and butterflies. Nectar-bearing.
Downy Yellow Violet. Viola pubescens
"When beechen buds begin to swell
And woods the bluebirds' warble know, The yellow violet's modest bell
Peeps from the last year's leaves below."
In northern Ohio the chances are that the Downy Yellow is the first of the Violet family to make an appearance. A few stray Blue ones are likely to come about the same time, but usually a few days later. The exact order of precedence among wild flowers can never be definitely settled, as they vary in time of flowering sometimes a week or more, weather that hastens one seeming to retard another; but ordinarily the Downy Yellow is our first Violet and appears abundantly by the middle of April; also blooms in May.
In size and shape the blossom is not unlike the Common Blue. It appears solitary on a stalk springing from the fork of two leaf-stalks. The anthers and style fairly fill the throat of the flower, and the side petals, heavily bearded, compel the visiting insect to brush against both stigma and anthers when seeking the nectar stored in the spur. At first the plant is about four inches high; later in the season it becomes considerably taller.
Smooth Yellow Violet. Viola scabruscula
The Smooth Yellow Violet, Viola scabruscula, with smooth, clustered stems and leaves varying from cordate-ovate to reniform, has yellow flowers about the same size as those of Viola pubescens. In some localities it blooms a little earlier. The petals are veined with purple. The spur is short and the sepals linear-lanceolate. It prefers moist woods to dry, and its range extends from Nova Scotia to Manitoba, south to Georgia and Texas. Common in northern Ohio.