Viola macloskeyi var. pallens (Small White Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Northern White Violet, Smooth White Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist woods, along shores, bogs, fens
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:2 to 5 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
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] A single white flower at the end of a hairless, leafless stem that usually rises above the leaves. Flowers are ¼ to 3/8 inch across with purple lines on the lower petal and may have a few hairs (beard) at the base of the side petals, but is mostly hairless. The lower petal ends in a short spur at the back. Petal-less, self-pollinating (cleistogamous) flowers develop after the white flowers finish blooming.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal, up to about 1 inch long at flowering time and rarely grow longer than 1½ inches long and wide at maturity. Leaves are round or kidney to somewhat heart-shaped, hairless, with a rounded or blunt tip and shallow teeth around the edges. Leaf stalks are mostly hairless though may have a few sparse hairs. Plants spread vegetatively via creeping rhizomes with stolons (prostrate stems) and may create sizable colonies.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a green, oval capsule that splits into 3 sections, containing numerous brown to black seeds.


There is more than one species of white violet native to Minnesota. Distinguishing features are whether the flowering stems have leaves, whether the petals are bearded, the hairiness of leaves and stems, and the flower size. Small White Violet has no stem leaves, is mostly beardless, is otherwise hairless, and has the smallest flowers of all the white violets in Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Savanna Portage State Park, Aitkin County, and in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: Clinton - Duluth
on: 2011-05-12 21:42:57

found some North of Duluth. Photos are online at:

Posted by: Billie Jo - Moose Lake
on: 2011-05-14 21:15:18

I found a clump of these growing in my yard in the shade of my lilac bushes in sandy/gravel soil.

Posted by: Rita - South Saint Paul
on: 2011-05-16 18:30:09

Found several small patches of white violets blooming along the trail at Seidl's Lake Park & School Forest in South Saint Paul, Northern Dakota County on May 16, 2011.

Posted by: Vickie - Crosslake
on: 2012-04-24 20:50:09

found a small patch by the lake shore

Posted by: Jaxan - Along Superior Hiking Trail near Two Harbors
on: 2014-05-14 20:12:51

May 14th and Still patches of snow in the woods! Hiked about twelve miles of trail and this one small patch was the ONLY type flowers seen all day. Also spotted a nice Belted Kingfisher.

Posted by: John - Lebanon Hills Regional Park Eagan
on: 2015-05-01 09:20:48

Saw this little gem growing by the side of a trail.

Posted by: Alan - SE Hubbard County near Paul Bunyan State Forest
on: 2016-05-02 08:48:48

Found hundreds of these growing near the shoreline of a small pond and even at the base of a beaver lodge.

Posted by: Penelope - Prior Lake
on: 2017-04-23 19:11:40

Having recently moved here from CA and missing the (blue/purple) violets I've always grown in my yard there..I can't describe my delight at finding g the white violets growing seemingly wild in my backyard here!

Posted by: Emily P - Fremont, MN (Winona County)
on: 2018-05-14 17:52:05

Found a patch by the shed in the back yard, planted them as a filler. Hope they don't take over!

Posted by: Viki Day - Duluth
on: 2020-06-05 08:31:45

I saw this about May 30, 2020 in Duluth. I have a picture.

Posted by: Shelene Norwood - East of Duluth
on: 2022-05-21 20:45:11

Growing in my yard, lots of tiny whites. We have 10 acres.

Posted by: Tanya Beyer Hovi - Sandy Township, St. Louis County
on: 2022-05-28 15:29:18

in a wet and gravelly hayfield within a half-mile of Big Rice Lake

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