Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)
|Also known as:||Smooth Yellow Violet|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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 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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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?