Viola blanda (Sweet White Violet)
|Also known as:||Big-leaved White Violet|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; cool shady woods|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Single irregular 5-petaled white flower at the end of a naked stem. Flowers are about ½ inch across, the upper two petals typically more narrow than most violets, somewhat twisted and/or curling back, often strongly so. The side petals thrust forward, are hairless or with a few sparse hairs at the base (nearly beardless), with brown-purple veins on both the side and lower petals. Flowering stems may be shorter than the leaves but typically rise above them.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are all basal, forming clusters at nodes along stem runners (rhizomatous), mostly heart-shaped, up to 2½ inches wide at maturity, rounded, blunt or pointed at the tip, with deeply cleft basal lobes overlapping when young. The upper surface appears satiny in texture and may be sparsely covered in short white hairs, especially on early growth. Early leaves are often more rounded at the tip, becoming more pointed at maturity. Leaf color is dark green; the leaf and flower stalks are often tinged with red.
A native of moist shady Minnesota woodlands, Sweet White Violet can perform spectacularly in a cool shady corner of the home garden. It is most easily confused with Viola macloskeyi (Small White Violet). Differences in the leaves are subtle but a good eye can spot them: the leaf sinus (space between the basal lobes) is narrower and longer in V. blanda than V. macloskeyi, leaves of V. macloskeyi are typically smaller than V. blanda especially at bloom time, V. macloskeyi leaves are less pointed than V. blanda. The upper petals of V. macloskeyi are also typically broader and not as curled or twisted. V. blanda is also much leafier along the runners. Viola renifolia (Kidney-leaved Violet) is another white violet, but is more densely hairy throughout.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Pine and Anoka counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?