There is little difference between the hairy blue violet and the common blue; sometimes they are almost indistinguishable. Their main difference is this: the common blue violet is smooth; the hairy blue violet has a fine silky-hairy stem and smaller, more finely toothed leaves. The flowers usually are a paler lavender blue. But both are loved by almost everyone who knows any flowers at all.
Viola sororia Willd.
April - May Woods, roadsides.
Violets have been a great boon to pickers of spring flowers. By the very abundance of violets, the strain on the rarer flowers is partially lessened. For although trout lilies, lady's slippers, trilliums, and many more, may be destroyed by picking, the violet plants seem none the worse for the ordeal. It is difficult to kill violet plants by over-picking. They multiply rapidly by extending their rootstocks, in addition to the manufacture of abundant seeds by means of cleistogamous flowers in summer. Violets, therefore, are common, which is indeed a fortunate circumstance, for in their popularity they might long since have vanished from the land.
Violets were known and loved long ago in ancient Greece and Rome; they have been made into perfume and poetry and paintings and corsages. In the United States, four states call the violet their special emblem - Illinois, New Jersey. Rhode Island, and "Wisconsin. Now into the woods and swamps and meadows and roadsides and gardens of an April land, blue violets once again come into blossom and fulfill a certain promise of the spring.
The wild blue violet which is the state flower of Illinois usually is identified by naturalists as the smooth meadow blue violet (Viola papilionacea), but there are about a dozen species of these beautiful flowers. The best known and most widely distributed is perhaps the hairy blue violet, (Viola sororia), while almost as common in the wet woods is the marsh blue violet. ( Viola cucullata).