February 16, 2013

Plant of the month:
Viola sororia

Or is it V. papilionacea? Apparently, either is correct (see the USDA classification and the comments on this post for more information). We're talking about the common Wood Violet here.

viola1

Now I realize this plant is one of the most common in North America, and it's considered by many to be a weed. But at this point, I can't wait to see the bright periwinkle blooms and lush green, heart-shaped leaves of this ubiquitous plant.

viola2

Also, part of the reason I'm keeping this blog and highlighting "plants of the month" is to document the plants that grow here...even if they have "issues."

viola5

In my garden, the Wood Violet isn't terribly invasive, although it is plentiful--especially at the edge of the woods.

viola4

The Wood Violet:
  • Is the state flower of several U.S. states, including Wisconsin;
  • Blooms here in mid-spring;
  • Spreads by vigorous runners and seeds;
  • Is a common flower featured in myths, paintings, and literature.

viola3

The American Violet Society offers a wealth of information about all types Violets. What I find most fascinating is the section about Native American folkloric, medicinal, and nutritional uses for Violets. For example, did you know that the Blackfoot used an infusion of Violet roots and leaves to treat asthma, or that the Cherokee soaked corn seeds in a solution made from Violet root to repel insects?

viola6

Plus, just looking at the tiny blooms improves my mood!

(Linking in with Dozens for Diana at Elephant's Eye on False Bay.)

46 comments:

  1. Looking forward to seeing one of the first spring time violet blossoms!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too! I know they can get out of hand, but they're so pretty and that blue is my favorite shade.

      Delete
  2. I like violets, too! I'm happy to have them in the lawn (better than grass, IMO) and as a ground cover in my little thicket area. Not happy to have them in flower beds, though, where they rapidly expand in the rich soil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They don't really grow too much in our lawn, because we treat it with pre-emergent organic corn gluten meal. But the area at the edge of the lot and into the woods is wild--and they thrive there!

      Delete
  3. Love the heart shaped leaf.. so pretty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the foliage is almost as cheery as the little flowers. :)

      Delete
  4. They are beautiful, even if they might be invasive! I think Viola odorata is the most common variety of violas over here, but this is certainly not something I know a lot about. Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not an expert either, but they sure are cheery plants. The fact that they're native means I definitely appreciate them in the wild areas of my garden!

      Delete
  5. About six years ago I had a couple of these pop up in the garden. I thought they were really pretty and left them alone. They must really like my soil because now I have thousands and I can't get rid of them. I put these in the "I think they're pretty but I don't want them in my garden category". The Primroses I planted are also in this category....I can't get rid of those either and they've spread all over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ours really only grow near the woods and in the woods. They used to grow in the lawn, but then we started using pre-emergent, organic corn gluten meal to prevent weeds. (and non-grass plants ;-) I don't want them in the cultivated part of my garden, either, but they're beautiful in the woods.

      Delete
    2. Where do you find the corn gluten meal? Would it be safe to use it on the violets in the beds next to other flowers? If it is I would owe you big time!!

      Delete
    3. Hi Christy: We get our corn gluten meal from a local co-op. It's quite reasonable, and it really works well for the lawn. It's a bit smelly for a couple of days as it settles in, but our lawn seems as lush and green as lawns treated with Weed and Feed. You can also order a corn gluten product through Gardens Alive: www.gardensalive.com.

      Delete
  6. a little sad to dismiss wild violets as weeds. In the next garden I start again with the creeping Australian groundcover violet. Such pretty purple and white flowers.
    PS if you are inclined to link in to the Dozen meme again, I'll file yours with Donna's for the March bunch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Diana: I agree. They belong here. And they're easy enough to control (see my notes above about corn gluten meal). I will link in to Dozens in the next couple of days. Things have been just a bit crazy here the past couple of days. ;-)

      Delete
  7. I'm not sure if I've seen wood violets before. I mostly see Johnny jump ups in the Spring and Fall. Violets make my heart leap a little because I know that Spring is coming soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Violets might be common, but they're so hopeful, aren't they? When the Violets bloom here, spring is in full bloom!

      Delete
  8. I love it! It's not invasive in my garden - probably because it's so dry here. Mine blooms just as the camellia and the irises start to bloom - it makes a beautiful trio.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, what a great combination of blooms at the same time! Of course, we don't commonly have Camellias here. And the Irises tend to bloom a little later than the Violets.

      Delete
  9. Just for clarification, in plant taxonomy, synonyms are not equals, and both are not correct. In this case V. papillionacea is a synonym of V. sororia, the correct species name, but not vice versa. It's a nice plant, but it is a bit weedy from the perspective of lawns; a smattering of violets, nice; a confluent carpet of violets is not so desireable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for clarifying. I admit I was a bit confused because I had thought they were V. papillionacea only. V. sororia is a little easier to remember, which is helpful for me! Yes, they can take over. I added a note to some of the comments above about organic Corn gluten meal in the lawn, which keeps them in check.

      Delete
  10. I love native violets and use them for ground cover...this is just beautiful and you know I love me some wildflower tales...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I thought of you Donna, when I was searching for folklore information. There's a lot of it regarding Violets!

      Delete
  11. I have violets and I love them! They're the best weed ever. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think I would have to agree, Tammy. They're certainly beautiful in their natural setting--near and into the woods.

      Delete

  12. Husband and I are at cross purposes with the violets. One I will not let him near is a very deep purple, appearing black, that has shown up near a stone wall, compliments of a dear friend. Your photographs say PRETTY, not WEED!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jayne! The deep purple ones you have sound stunning. I wonder what species they are? I certainly appreciate the Wood Violets in their natural setting, and others, cultivated...if that is what the gardener wants.

      Delete
  13. I love violets and can't wait until I get a bit more shade in my garden so I can plant them. I've also been looking for some Parma violets, which are very fragrant, but they are proving hard to find...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Parma Violets...I will have to look them up! Sounds like you're well on your way to adding more shade to your garden. Me, I'm wishing I had a little more sun so I could have a bigger vegetable garden. But at least I do have one sunny spot for a small potager. Good luck with the Violets!

      Delete
  14. Such a pretty little plant and is good for natural settings. I did not know they had medicinal qualities as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I figured they did, but had no idea the extent of their uses. I wonder how many of the treatments really work.

      Delete
  15. What a lovely little plant, looks a lot like the UK native viola odorata, which I have in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Related, I guess. But I've read that yours have a lovely scent--I guess that makes sense with the name. These don't, but they're pretty little things, and they're very abundant here.

      Delete
  16. Lovely pictures, Beth. I am trying to learn more about violas, I like their simple flowers but I have heard many many complaints about their invasiveness. Are yours fragrant at all? I have heard someone mention the wafting fragrance but I think it was another kind of viola, odorata maybe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Masha. No, these aren't fragrant and they do take over if given the chance. I think you're right about odorata. All the varieties look so cheerful. But I love the periwinkle/cornflower blue of the Wood Violets!

      Delete
  17. I like masses of violets in woodland settings, but don't mind them showing their happy faces here as well. They take me back to childhood too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have much of a problem with them, but they do tend to populate the lawn if you don't deal with them. But if it was socially acceptable, a lawn filled with bright yellow Dandelions and cornflower blue Violets would be kind of pretty. ;-)

      Delete
  18. It's one of the plants on my list because it grows well under fir trees....I'm gathering up a list of plants that will survive in our conditions....

    Pretty little things.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes, that makes sense. They like shade but not deep shade, I guess. In my garden, they tend to grow at the edge of the woods and in clearings.

      Delete
  19. Liz, they are so beautiful, that definitely they cheer me up! Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lula! Just looking at the pictures cheers me up, too. It will be wonderful to see them for real again this spring!

      Delete
  20. Hi Beth! If it's a weed, it's a nice one! I have Labrador violet which also spreads. I don't mind since it keeps soil free from other, less attractive weeds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tatyana: Yes, I would have to agree! I think if a plant is a native, it makes sense to allow a place for it. Maybe not all over the lawn or garden, but in the wilder spots in our outdoor rooms. :)

      Delete
  21. Now this is why I love my woodland garden: I can have these beautiful "weeds" and they are completely appropriate! Violets are my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too! I'm so pleased to have both wild and cultivated areas in my garden. And it's fun to see Violets growing naturally in the woods, too.

      Delete
  22. That's a pretty little plant. It's a little different from the ones that are native to our area. I have some in my vegetable garden, that I don't let spread too far. I like to add the blooms and leaves to my salads.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they're cute little cheery plants. They tend to take over sometimes, but they definitely have a place in my garden. ;-)

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)