Viola macloskeyi var. pallens (Small White Violet)
|Also known as:||Northern White Violet, Smooth White Violet|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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 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.
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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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?