Canada Violet (Viola Canadensis) is the most common of the leafy stemmed blue violets. You will notice that the preceding species all had their leaves from the base, and the flowers nodding on slender scapes, while this one has leaves growing on the slender stem and flowers above them on peduncles, springing from the angles of the leaves. The leaves are heart-shaped, pointed and serrate. The flowers are pale violet or even white, the lower, spurred petals having yellowish bases, streaked with purple veins; the side petals streaked with purple and bearded. This species is quite common in woods throughout the United States.
Violets are among our most popular flowers. Varieties obtained from our wild ones are cultivated in enormous quantities for adornment and for perfume. The violet is the state flower of Rhode Island, and has been adopted as their representative flower by several colleges.
A. White Violet; Sweet Violet.
B. Lance-leaved Violet.
Sweet White Violet (Viola Blanda) is the most fragrant of our wild violets, regardless of color. It is a most charming plant, but very diminutive, in fact it is probably the smallest of the entire family. Occasionally we may find them in some exceptionally favorable locality growing to a height of perhaps six inches, but the usual height will barely exceed two inches. The plant is stemless, that is the leaf stems and flower stalks all spring directly from the root.
The delicate, white flowers are small, - barely a half inch across and many of them not more than a quarter of an inch. The petals are not widely expanded, and the top two are usually more or less curved backwards; the three lower petals are very delicately veined near the throat with purple, and the lateral ones are sometimes fringed of bearded. By the way, this beard that is found on most of the violets is there for a purpose, - to prevent crawling insects, such as small ants, from gaining admittance to the store of nectar in the spur back of the throat. Useful bees or butterflies can reach through with their tongues, but it is almost impossible for other pilferers to force their way through bodily.
The leaves of the common white violet are rounded heart-shaped with slightly scalloped or round-toothed edges. It is very common in swamps and moist woods throughout the United States and southern Canada.
Lance-Leaved Violet (Viola Lanceolata) is a taller, more slender species growing from 3 to 8 inches high. Its leaves are lance-shaped, scallop-edged and on long stems from the root. The white flowers are only slightly fragrant; the three lower petals are strongly veined with purple and the two side ones are rarely bearded. It is commonly found in swamps and moist ground from N. S. to Minn, and southwards, flowering from April to June.
Downy Yellow Violet (Viola Pubescens) is a large very handsome violet that prefers, for its habitat, dry hilly woods, often by the side of rushing brooks, but not usually where the soil is moist.
In a certain piece of woodland, a small brook tumbles its way noisily along its rocky bed. Alders sparingly line both banks of the brook, banks that slope steeply upward on either side. In one place along it, in a place the size of an ordinary room, is a colony of Yellow Violets, growing so closely together that one can barely see the ground between the leaves. Directly over this wild flower bed, a pair of Wood Thrushes make their home, year after year. Ordinarily Yellow Violets bloom in April and May, but in this particular case their bloom is delayed until the latter part of May, the time when their feathered neighbors have their home also completed.
The Yellow Violet is one of the tallest members of the family, its stem ranging from 6 to 18 inches in length. Both the stems and the leaves are wooly hairy. There are from two to four leaves growing from the stem near its summit; they are heart-shaped, pointed, and either toothed or scalloped. The flowers, rising on slender peduncles from the axils of the leaves, are rather large and bright yellow; the two lateral petals are heavily bearded and the lower one is handsomely veined with purple. These beards compel visiting insects to brush against the stigma and then against the anthers before reaching the nectar in the short spur.
Most of the violets, during the summer, have apeta-lous or cleistogamous flowers on short peduncles from the root; these never open, but are fertilized in the bud. Closely allied species when growing near each other, often form hybrids that are confusing except to the expert botanist.
Smooth Yellow Violet (Viola Scabriuscula) is similar to the former but, normally, is smooth or only very slightly hairy. Yellow Violets are found from N. S. to Manitoba and southwards to Md. and Kans.