Viola blanda (Sweet White Violet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Big-leaved White Violet
Family:Violaceae (Violet)
Life cycle:perennial
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flower] 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: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a hanging ovoid capsule about ¼ inch long, containing many small seeds that ripen to dark brown.


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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Tom - anoka county
on: 2015-03-17 10:46:36

Although scent is usually not included in flower descriptions,it could be noted that sweet white violet is quite fragrant,especially for its small size.It is worth getting down on hands and knees to smell this spring beauty!

Posted by: Jeanie N - Brainerd
on: 2017-05-16 21:49:38

I have a large patch of white violets which have really taken off since the removal of an old lilac shrub. The house is from 1888.

Posted by: ter w - Sherburne Couty
on: 2018-05-14 11:53:51

found scattered plants in wooded area adjoining county land.

Posted by: Emily P - Fremont, MN (Winona County)
on: 2018-05-14 17:45:49

Found a large patch growing in along our shed out in Fremont. Very pretty.

Posted by: Paul henjum - Apple Valley
on: 2020-12-29 07:58:51

Around lake Alimagnet can be found on wet soils that are down hill from hills, it grows in small colonies and the flowers are typically held above the leaves.

Posted by: Sara - South eastern
on: 2021-05-05 16:39:47

White violets indicate basic soil, purple means acidic. Natures ph gage!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-05-05 16:56:00

Sara, while soil acidity may affect the flower color of hydrangeas, I don't think it's a reliable indicator for violets. The two can co-habitate.

Posted by: EB - Edina 55435 backyard amongst pachysandra under pines
on: 2021-05-19 08:14:57

First time seeing white "violets". I wonder if more invasive than the already prolific "blue/purple" flowered seed droppers ???

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-05-19 09:21:07

EB, violets of any color are not as invasive as pachysandra. ;)

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