Viola palmata var. pedatifida (Prairie Violet)
|Also known as:||Bearded Birdfoot Violet|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry prairies, open woods|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 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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A single, slightly irregular 5-petaled flower about ¾-inch across on a hairless, leafless stem. Petals are purple to blue-violet; the 3 lower petals are white near the base, the 2 side petals have a tuft of white hairs (“beard”) and the middle has darker purple lines. One to several flower stems may arise from one plant.
Prairie Violet is easily confused for Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata). The easiest way to tell them apart is whether or not the flowers are bearded. Birdfoot Violet is beardless and has larger flowers, up to 1½ inches across. Prairie Violet often goes by synonym Viola pedatifida, but the accepted name in Minnesota is Viola palmata var. pedatifida.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton, MN and Wild River State Park, May 2008 and 2009. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Anoka County and a residential garden in Lino Lakes.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?