Because of their abundance and beauty, the violets take rank with the favorites among our native flowers. Our species of violets are all low herbs, either leafy-stemmed or stemless, that is, the leaves and flowers arising directly from the rootstock. The flowers possess five stamens, the two lowest with appendages that project into the spur or nectar sac of the lower and odd petal. Only these two stamens are developed in the apetalous flowers which come after the petaliferous flowers in most stemless species except the Bird's-foot Violet. The petaliferous flowers are somewhat irregular, the lower petal extended into a spur or sac back of the flower, the lateral petals usually narrower than the two upper petals, and usually only the spur and lateral petals adorned at the base in some species with hairs.

Allied species of some groups freely hybridize when growing together. The hybrids commonly display characters more or less intermediate to those of the parent species, and show marked vegetative vigor, but very often also impaired fertility. These violets of hybrid origin are frequently unlike the mother plant and unlike one another, reverting variously in succeeding generations to the characters of the two original species.

Two cultivated species of violets are common in the east, and sometimes escape from cultivation. They are the English, Marsh or Sweet Violet (Viola odorata Linnaeus), and the Pansy or Heartsease (Viola tricolor Linnaeus) with variously colored flowers. The original form, and the one which the cultivated forms revert to sooner or later, has violet or purple flowers. The large Garden Pansy is the product of various crosses of Viola tricolor with allied species of the Old World. In addition to these, there are about thirty-three native species of violets in New York, beside the many natural hybrids. The following key to the native species may be useful in determining certain species not illustrated here.

1 Stemless; the leaves and scapes directly from a rootstock or from runners Petals bright yellow; leaves orbicular......................1 V. rotundifolia

Petals violet, purple or white

Cleistogamous flowers wanting; petals all beardless; leaves divided.

2 V. pedata Cleistogamous flowers present, at least later in the season

Rootstock thick, often stout, without stolons; lateral petals bearded

Cleistogamous flowers ovoid on short prostrate peduncles; their capsules mostly purplish Leaves except rarely the earliest, palmately five- to eleven-lobed or parted; foliage villous-pubescent

Leaf-lobes blunt, lateral ones broad........3 V. pa1mata

Leaf-lobes acuminate, lateral ones linear. ..4V. perpensa Early and late leaves uncut; others three- to seven-lobed or parted

5 V. triloba Leaves all uncut; blades ovate to reniform, cordate, crenate-serrate Plants nearly or quite glabrous; petals violet-purple; seeds brown

Petioles smooth; plants of moist soil....................

6 V. papilionacea

Petioles glandular roughened; plants of dry soil..........

7 V. 1 atiuscula Leaves very hairy, especially beneath and on the petioles; seeds dark brown.......................8 V. sororia

Leaves hirsutulous above, otherwise smooth; seeds buff.......

9 V. hirsutula Cleistogamous flowers ovoid on ascending peduncles, soon elongated

Leaves pubescent beneath and on the petioles; sepals and their auricles ciliolate; blades broadly ovate, cordate..............

10 V. septentriona1is

Leaves glabrous beneath and on the petioles......11 V. affinis

Cleistogamous flowers on erect peduncles, their capsules green Leaves broadly ovate, blunt at the apex; sepals obtuse

Cleistogamous flowers ovoid; spurred petal villous..........

12 V. nephrophylla Cleistogamous flowers long and slender, spurred petal glabrous

13 V. cucullata Leaves lobed or the margins sharply incised or toothed toward the subcordate or truncate base; spurred petal villous, lateral ones with capillary beard Blade of the mature leaves ovate-oblong, ciliate, finely pubescent ; petioles short...............14 V. fimbriatula Blade of the mature leaves lanceolate, usually smooth; petioles long................................15 V. sagillata Blade of the mature leaves broadly ovate or deltoid

Margin coarsely toothed near the base; blades sometimes lobed........................16 V. emarginata

Margin sharply toothed toward the base and more or less pectinately incised..............17 V. pectinata

Blade of mature leaves primarily three-lobed or three-parted, the segments two to three-cleft into linear or oblanceolate lobes...........................18 V. brittoniana

Rootstock slender (or thicker and scaly with age); plants usually from stolons Petals pale violet; leaves minutely hairy on the upper surface; spur large, 3 lines long..........................19 V. s e 1 kirkii

Petals white, with dark purple lines on the lower three

Cleistogamous capsules ovoid, usually purplish; woodland plants

Leaves reniform, lateral petals beardless; stolons short.......

20 V. renifolia Leaves broadly ovate, acute; lateral petals bearded; seeds obtuse at the base..................21 V. incognita

Leaves ovate, acute or acuminate; lateral petals beardless; seeds acute at base......................22 Y. blanda

Cleistogamous capsules ellipsoid; always green; peduncles erect; bog and wet meadow species

Leaves broadly ovate or orbicular, cordate, obtuse. . . .

23 V. pallens Leaves oblong to ovate, the base slightly cordate to tapering

24 V. primulifolia Leaves lanceolate to elliptical..........25 V. lanceolata

2 Leafy-stemmed; the flowers axillary

Style capitate, beakless, bearded near the summit, spur short; stipules nearly entire, soon scarious Petals yellow

Sparingly pubescent; root-leaves usually one to three.. .26 V. eriocarpa

Markedly pubescent; root-leaves usually wanting. . 27 V. pubescens

Inner face of the petals white with yellow base, outer face usually violet; leaves usually broadly ovate, acuminate, subglabrous.........28 V. canadensis

Style not capitate; spur long; stipules bristly toothed, herbaceous

Spur 2 to 4 lines long; lateral petals bearded; styles bent at tip, with short beard

Petals white or cream-colored...........................29 V. striata

Petals violet-blue

Herbage glabrous or nearly so; leaves orbicular or suborbicular

Stipules ovate-lanceolate, bristly serrate; leaves often 1 inches wide...................................30 V. conspersa

Stipules linear, entire except at base; leaves not over three-fourths of an inch wide; alpine................31 V. labradorica

Herbage puberulent; stems ascending; blades mostly ovate............ 32 .V. adunca

Spur 4 to 6 lines long, lateral petals beardless; style straight and smooth........ 33 V. rostrata

Style much enlarged upward into a globose, hollow summit; stipules large, leaflike, pectinate at base; upper leaves and middle lobe of stipules entire or nearly so; dry sandy places.........................................34 V. rafinesquii