Viola conspersa (Dog Violet)
|Also known as:||American Dog Violet, Alpine Violet, Labrador Violet|
|Habitat:||shade, sun; woods, meadows, along streams|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||1 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are a typical 5-petaled violet shape, ½ to ¾ inch long, pale lavender to light blue fading to white at the base of the petals. The lower petal has dark purple lines and the 2 side petals each have a tuft of white hair (a “beard”) at the base. There is a longer than average spur at the back of the lower petal that curves up behind the flower. Each flower is at the end of a long naked stalk that arises from a leaf axil; each plant has a few to several flowers on branching or multiple stems. A plant can start blooming when it is less than 1 inch tall.
Leaves and stem:
There are both basal leaves and stem leaves. Both are mostly round or kidney to heart shaped with scalloped edges, averaging about 1 inch across. Leaf color is light green to yellowish green but may be purplish on the underside. On the main stem where the leaf and flower stems join is a broad leaf-like appendage (stipule) with mostly serrated edges. Leaves and stem are hairless.
There are somewhere around 10 species of blue or purple violets that grow in Minnesota. Two distinguishing features in identifying them are whether the flowers and leaves come from the same stem, and whether the side petals are bearded. Both are true for Dog Violet. Very similar is Sand Violet (Viola adunca), which has darker blue-violet flowers, a longer spur, narrower stipules, has darker green leaves and may be hairy to varying degrees. An alternate scientific name for Dog Violet is Viola Labradorica, but the accepted name in Minnesota is Viola conspersa.
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Photos taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?