Scattered about in dry, airy, particularly hilly or stony woodland, where the sun's rays play at hide and seek with its flitting shadows, during April and May, the cheerful, bright, golden yellow blossoms of the Downy Yellow Violet appear, like lingering flecks of molten sunshine, entangled among its fuzzy stems and leaves. This species is the commonest and best known of the Yellow Violets. It has a sprightly, upright and spirited air about it, and is the "Slim Jim" of its family, for Violets, as a rule, being of the well-regulated sort in domestic matters, usually grow in neatly grouped tufts. The Downy Yellow Violet grows from five or six inches to a foot and a half in height, averaging perhaps considerably less than a foot.
Its single light green, hairy stalk is comparatively stout, and is ofttimes branching above, with the lower part leafless and bare. The large, velvety green leaves are very broadly heart-shaped, and before they become fully matured, their up-curved lobes at the short stem give them the form of a pointed scoop. The under surface is of a lighter shade, and the ribs and veins show prominently. The edges are either entire or slightly toothed. After the flowering period, a few leaves rise direct from the base of the stalk, on long, grooved, hairy stems. The single flowers and their slender stems are relatively small. The two upper pairs of the bright golden yellow petals are rounding, and uniform in size. They are faintly marked with purple lines, and when fully developed, often recurve toward the hooked stem, while the short, lower petal is notched, has stronger markings, and is slightly curved in the opposite direction. This last petal is also set at an acute angle with the lateral ones. The spur is short, and the sepals are oblong and pointed. The flower stem springs from the fork of the widely spreading leaf stems, the angles of which are guarded with a pair of short, pointed, leaf-like bracts. This Violet ranges from Quebec to Manitoba, and South Dakota, southward to Georgia and Iowa.