Where the prairie hills lie like supine animals upon whose long forms the ruddy prairie grass blows like fur, the bird-foot violets bloom in spring. They are creatures of spring winds and the dry loess hills, of sandhills and clay slopes, of rocky places in sunny woods, of sunny places among the black jack oaks and red cedars. Compact and low, the little plants grow from tough prairie soil and produce blossoms which are super violets. The flowers are larger than those of ordinary violets and the little plants are much smaller. This tends to exaggerate them, to make them more akin to cultivated plants than to the wild, which so often is more prodigal in the size of its leaves than its flowers.
Viola pedata L.
April - May Prairie bills, sandy woods, rocks.
The bird-foot violet is a pale sky-blue-lavender with an orange pistil tipped with pale green, protruding from the beardless center of the flower. The oblong petals spread wide. The leaves are on short stems and are so deeply cut into narrow lobes that they appear almost compound. They may be only the size of a fifty-cent piece, cut deeply to the very center where the stem springs.
One, variety of the bird-foot violet that is common in Illinois is often called variety concolor in contrast to the rarer one having the two upper dark purple and the three lower lilac-purple. This is often termed variety bicolor. Occasionally a white-flowered one is found which may be called variety alba.