Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Smooth Yellow Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; dry woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flower] Flowers are about ¾ inch across, 5 yellow petals with several purple or brownish lines on the lower petal; there may be 1 to a few lines on the other petals. The side petals are bearded with short hairs on the inside near the base. The flower is at the end of a stem that arises from a leaf axil. One plant has 1 to a few flowers.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of stem leaves] There are both basal leaves, and leaves alternately attached on the stem. Basal leaves are broadly heart-shaped, to 3 inches wide and 2½ inches long, with coarse teeth or scalloped edges and hairy leaf stalks about 3 inches long. The stem leaves are a little smaller, more elongated than broadly heart-shaped. The underside of leaves are usually covered in short hairs but may be smooth. The stem may be smooth or hairy to varying degrees, and forks near the top.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an egg-shaped capsule about 1/3 inch long, initially hanging but turning brown with age. When ripe, the pod becomes erect and splits into 3 sections, shooting the brown seed several feet from the plant.


Violets can be hard to identify, but Downy Yellow Violet is easy since it's the only yellow violet that's common in wooded areas during spring in Minnesota. Other yellow violets either do not grow in Minnesota or not in woods in the spring.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Anoka County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Cook counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Pam - Stanchfield
on: 2010-05-05 02:50:56

These starting blooming in the woods last week and are quite plentiful now.

Posted by: Arne - Wright County, Near Monticello
on: 2011-05-27 18:46:34

Plentiful in Montissippi Park, Wright County 05/27/11

Posted by: Darcy - Grygla
on: 2011-05-29 21:32:06

lots of them in my woods. So pretty!

Posted by: Dianne - Blaine
on: 2012-05-04 15:53:51

Saw several of these today (5/4/2012) in Pioneer Park in Blaine.

Posted by: John - Lebanon Hills Regional Park Eagan
on: 2015-05-01 10:03:03

Saw several happy little patches alongside a hiking trail not too far from a small lake.

Posted by: cheryl - elm creek park
on: 2015-05-08 23:02:42

Blooming now on the intermediate and expert loops of the mt bike trail at elm creek park.

Posted by: Jackie - Washington County
on: 2015-05-15 09:55:32

Brilliant yellow blooms in wooded Washington County.

Posted by: Michele - Jay Cooke State Park
on: 2016-05-19 10:27:18

Lots of them in bloom through the woods.

Posted by: Leah - West Medicine Lake Park, Plymouth
on: 2016-07-04 21:59:46

They were blooming near the trail in early June.

Posted by: Alex - Hackensack
on: 2017-05-29 03:34:39

I find many of these in the woods near Hackensack, MN every year. Currently blooming in late May.

Posted by: Amy - Stanchfield
on: 2019-06-02 09:22:55

First year I've seen them, growing in my heavily shaded back yard.

Posted by: Cara - Rochester
on: 2020-05-13 21:02:25

Found in a shaded area in our yard, basically a wild forest area.

Posted by: Wayne Goeken - ERSKINE
on: 2020-05-26 23:53:05

Hiked through Dorr WMA SW of Erskine today and LOTS of Downy Yellow Violet along with purple violets...and saw my first yellow laddyslippers of the year there...saw three in bloom...didn't expect that. Wonderful area. Bring bug spray...skeeters are friendly...and do thorough tick check after...just sayin...and I'd share photos if that is allowed and if I was instructed in how to do so.

Posted by: Jeanne Betsinger - North eastern houston county
on: 2020-06-06 12:49:29

There are several patches on my property, I also have them growing in my flower beds. They will often come up along with other wild flowers when plowing up an old pasture or neglected wood lot.

Posted by: J. OBrien - Edina
on: 2021-05-07 19:43:59

Just found some of the downy yellow violets for the first time in my backyard which is wooded (mostly oaks). Also have white, deep purple and magenta varieties.

Posted by: Peter - Afton, MN
on: 2021-05-21 15:41:54

Just found a few growing in my lawn, right next to some V. sororia 'rubra'. They're really pretty, and I hope they spread.

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