A small family of herbs with perfect but irregular flowers having live petals, the lower one of which is spurred; flowers nodding.
A. BirdVfoot Violet.
B. Palmated Violet.
Bird-Foot Violet (Viola Pedata) is a well known and very characteristic violet, one not apt to be confused with the other species of blue violets. The flowers of this species are the largest of the blue violets; they are blue-violet or purple-violet and have a bright orange center, formed by the large anthers that block the throat of the blossom. The lower, large petal is slightly grooved, veined with white at its base and has a short spur to hold nectar for its valued insect visitors, these being bumblebees and small butterflies.
The leaves grow on long petioles, in dense tufts, from the root; each leaf is cut into five to eleven parts, all sharply pointed, and the middle and lateral ones with their ends notched or cleft.
Early Blue Violet; Palmated Violet (Viola Palmata) has slightly smaller blue flowers with bearded side petals; occasionally the flowers may be nearly white. Its petals are narrower than those of the last species and the anthers are smaller and less. conspicuous.
The basal leaves are very variable in shape, ranging from heart-shaped with rounded teeth and an unbroken edge to palmately cleft ones with five or seven rounded lobes; they are never cleft entirely to the stem as are those of Bird-foot Violet, but only about half way, and all divisions are rounded with no sharp angles. Both of these violets are common in dry ground, the former in fields or the borders of swamps, and the latter usually in thin woodland, from Me. to Minn, and southwards.
A. Common Violet. Viola cucullata.
B. Canada Violet. Viola canadensis.
Common Violet (Viola Cucullata) is the commonest and best known of all the violets. It grows in low land everywhere, - in woods, meadows, marshes or along roadsides. It is a very beautiful and variable species both as to size and color of blossoms and to shape of the leaves. If the ground is dry, the plants will be small, and the flowers nodding from scapes perhaps 3 inches high. In rich swampy ground we find it at its best, the handsome flowers sometimes proudly waving their heads on slender stems a foot long.
The flowers are sometimes a deep purple and again may be a light blue, or even nearly white. The two upper petals are usually darker near the throat; the three lower ones shade to white at the throat, the side ones being beautifully fringed or bearded. The leaves are usually heart-shaped, round-toothed and concave or furled; they are on long stems from the base.