Viola adunca (Sand Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hooked-spur Violet, Western Dog Violet, Early Blue Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; open woods, Jack pine forest, rock outcrops, rocky or sandy banks
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:3 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC 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 flowers] Irregular 5-petaled blue-violet flower ½ to 2/3 inch (to 16 mm) long at the end of a minutely hairy stalk arising from a leaf axil. The 2 lateral petals have small tufts of white hairs at the base (bearded). The lower petal is white at the base with dark purple veins radiating from the center, and forms a long spur at the back.

[photo of spur and sepals] The spur is mostly straight but may curve upward or slightly downward. Sepals are narrowly triangular to lance-linear, pointed at the tip, hairless or minutely hairy along the midvein. There are typically 1 to 3 flowers per stem, rising above the leaves.

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

[photo of leaves] There are both stem and basal leaves; color is blue-green. Leaves are up to 1½ inches (to 4 cm) long, ½ to 1 inch wide, egg-shaped to slightly heart-shaped to nearly round but generally longer than wide with a rounded or blunt tip, and on a long stalk, though these are not fully developed at flowering time. Leaf edges are scalloped to nearly toothless and often fringed with minute hairs; surfaces are minutely hairy, especially the lower surface.

[photo of stem leaves] At the base of a leaf stalk is a pair of leafy appendages (stipules) that are typically narrow with a few long, slender teeth or lobes. Stems are usually minutely hairy, rarely hairless, with multiple leafy stems arising from the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Both petalled (chasmogamous) and petal-less, self-pollinating (cleistogamous) flowers produce fruit, in an ovoid capsule up to about 1/3 inch (6 to 9 mm) long, initially green and dangling, becoming erect when mature and drying tan.

[photo of seed] The mature capsule splits into 3 sections, each containing several dark brown seeds 1.5 to 2 mm long.


Sand Violet is most similar to Dog Violet (Viola labradorica a.k.a. V. conspersa), which also has both basal and stem leaves, but is hairless or nearly so, has paler flowers, yellow-green leaves that are more consistently round to kidney-shaped, and a preference for moister, loamy, peaty or mucky soils. These two violets have been known to hybridize, though there are no records of this hybrid in Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Vermillion Falls, Dakota County and Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton County.


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

Posted by: Nick - Lilydale Park, St Paul
on: 2012-04-11 13:25:47

These flowers were blooming on 4/11 on the edge of the gravel parking lot in Lilydale park. It was the parking lot next to Pickerel Lake.

Posted by: Sherry Gray - Grey Cloud Dunes SNA
on: 2020-05-18 19:32:10

I think this is what I saw today May 18, 2020 at GCD SNA

Posted by: Cara - Finland
on: 2022-06-25 16:20:22

We have them by our home, which is basically in the woods of Finland, MN

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