Viola palmata L.

wood violet

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Wood violet has very variable leaves, being more or less lobed, with indentations of varying depths. This is a species of drier sites, forests, rocky slopes and fields.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forests, meadows and fields, talus and rocky slopes, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
blue to purple
Leaf type
the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower symmetry
there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
Stamen number
5
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Fruit length
10–15 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached by its base to the filament
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    there are spurs on the anthers
    Anther tube length
    0 mm
    Calyx growth after flowering
    the calyx does not grow to cover or partially cover the fruit
    Calyx symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Carpel hairs
    the carpels have no hairs
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cilia on petals
    the petal margins do not have cilia
    Cleistogamous flowers
    • the plant has some cleistogamous flower
    • there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    NA
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower appearance
    • the flowers appear after the leaves have appeared
    • the flowers appear at the same time as the leaves
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower diameter
    20–30 mm
    Flower length
    13–22 mm
    Flower number
    1
    Flower orientation
    the flower bends downwards or hangs downwards
    Flower petal color
    blue to purple
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the style is knob-like at the tip, and unbranched
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Hypanthium length
    0 mm
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Interior flower disk
    the flower does not have an interior disc
    Length of peduncle
    60–125 mm
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has one or more nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    3
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Perianth shape
    NA
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    blue to purple
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal base
    • the petal narrows abruptly at the base
    • the petal narrows gradually or does not narrow at the base
    Petal folding in bud
    the petals in bud are arranged in a cycle with edges overlapping like roof shingles (imbricate)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal glandular dots or scales
    no
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    • the side petals of the flower are hairy, with hairs that are knob-shaped (with a narrow base and a thickened knob at the tip)
    • the spurred petal of the flower has hairs
    • the spurred petal of the flower is hairless
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Petal length relative to sepals
    the petals are longer than the sepals
    Petal nectaries
    the petals do not have nectaries
    Petal number
    5
    Petal shape
    • the petal outline is oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends)
    • the petal outline is obovate (roughly egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Petal tip shape
    • the petal tip is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    • the petal tip is retuse (with a blunt or rounded apex and a notch at the center)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal auricles
    there is one auricle per sepal
    Sepal cilia
    the sepals have cilia on their edges
    Sepal color
    green to brown
    Sepal features
    NA
    Sepal length
    6–10 mm
    Sepal number
    5
    Sepal orientation
    • the sepals are pressed against the corolla, or jutting stiffly upward
    • the sepals are slightly curved outwards from the corolla
    Sepal relative length
    NA
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Sepal texture
    the sepals are either very thin but flexible, like a membrane, or they are leaf-like in texture
    Sepal tip shape
    • the sepal tip is obtuse (is bluntly pointed)
    • the sepal tip is rounded
    Sepal uniformity
    all the sepals are about the same size
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    1.6–2.2 mm
    Spur number
    1
    Stamen appendages
    stamen appendages are present
    Stamen attachment
    • the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    • the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    Stamen morphology
    the stamens within each cycle are the same
    Stamen number
    5
    Stamen position relative to petals
    the stamens are lined up with the sepals
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not attached to one another
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Stigma position
    the stigmas are positioned at the tip of the style
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Style relative length
    the stigma does not protrude beyond the mouth of the corolla
    Surface of ovary
    the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    the capsule is spotted or tinted with red to purple-brown
    Capsule ribs
    the capsule has no prominent ribs or wings
    Capsule splitting
    the capsule splits by three main valves, teeth or pores
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is round in cross-section
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    10–15 mm
    Fruit length relative to sepals
    the fruit is longer than its associated sepals
    Fruit locules
    three
    Fruit shape
    • the fruit is ellipsoid (widest in the middle and tapering to each end)
    • the fruit is ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Hair type on fruit
    NA
    Hairs on fruit
    the fruits are not hairy
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Ovary stipe length
    0 mm
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has parietal placentation, where ovules develop on the wall or slight outgrowths of the wall forming broken partitions within a compound ovary
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed length
    1.7–2.5 mm
    Seed relative length
    the seed is longer than it is wide
    Seed surface
    the seed is smooth or without clear markings
    Seeds comose
    no hairs
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Horizontal rooting stem
    the plant does not have stolons
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracteoles
    the plant has bracteoles between the primary bracts and the flowers
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Floral bracts
    the flower has one or more bracts associated with it
    Hairs on leaf stalk
    the petiole has hairs on it
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, has rounded lobes at the base)
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    50–100 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is reniform (kidney-shaped; wider than long)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf hair orientation
    the hairs are flat against the leaf surface, mostly pointing towards the leaf tip
    Leaf sheath length
    0 mm
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is dull or slightly shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base is narrow where it attaches to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    Up to 200 mm
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    • the leaf has lobes that radiate from the base, somewhat like a hand
    Leaf tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Leaf tufts in axils
    • NA
    • there are no clusters of smaller leaves growing out of axils
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf types
    NA
    Leaf variation
    NA
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaflet petiolules
    NA
    Leaves per node
    the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant (i.e., basal)
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule edges
    • the stipule margins do not have teeth
    • the stipule margins have teeth on them
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf stalk
    the stipules are not fused to the petioles
    Stipule length
    5–20 mm
    Stipule shape
    • the stipules are lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the stipules are linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • talus or rocky slopes
    • woodlands
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Direction of stem hairs
    NA
    Flowering stem cross-section
    NA
    Hair between stem nodes
    NA
    Hairs between stem nodes
    NA
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    NA
    Leaves on stem
    the flowering stem has no leaves above the base
    Length of hairs between stem nodes
    0 mm
    Plant height
    2–45 cm
    Stem bloom
    NA
    Stem hair distribution
    NA
    Stem nodes swollen
    NA
    Stem orientation
    NA
    Stem roughness between nodes
    NA
    Stem spacing
    NA
    Stem succulence
    NA
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    NA

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
unrankable (S-rank: SU)
Maine
historical (S-rank: SH), potentially extirpated (code: PE)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), state threatened (code: ST)
Vermont
rare (S-rank: S2)

var. dilatata

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. palmata

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

var. triloba

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Viola pedata:
all the leaves lobed and petals without hairs on the inner surface (vs. V. palmata, with the first series of leaves unlobed, the later leaves lobed, and lateral petals with hairs on the inner surface).
Viola subsinuata:
all the leaves lobed, the midseason leaf blades with 5-16 lobes that become progressively smaller and separated by shallower sinuses toward the basal margins (vs. V. palmata, with the first series of leaves unlobed, the later leaves lobed, the midseason leaf blades with mostly 3-5 lobes).

Synonyms

  • Viola palmata var. dilitata Ell.
  • Viola triloba Schwein.

Family

Violaceae

Genus

Viola

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

16.  Viola palmata L. N

wood violet. Viola palmata L. var. dilatata Ell.; V. triloba Schwein. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; restricted in northern New England to southern ME and NH and western VT. Dry-mesic forests, woodlands, clearings, rocky slopes, and fields. Rare forms of this plant have deeply cleft blades (the dilatata form) and could be confused with Viola subsinuata. These can be separated by their 3–7 principal segments, unlobed middle lobes, and occasional presence of petiolules on the outer (i.e., lower) pair(s) of segments (vs. 5–16 principal segments, lobed middle lobes, and absence of petiolules on the outer pair(s) of segments in V. subsinuata). 
The dilitata form is known from CT and VT.

16×25a.  Viola ×‌robinsoniana House is a very rare violet hybrid known from CT, MA, NH. It has pubescent foliage and narrow-ovate to ovate-oblong leaf blades, some with 1–3 lateral lobes near the base and a prolonged middle lobe (the first leaves and late season leaves unlobed). It differs from V. palmata in the relatively narrower leaf blades and reduced lateral lobes. It differs from V. sagittata in its relatively broader leaf blades and more prominent lateral lobes.

7×16. Viola cucullata × Viola palmata Viola ×‌greenmanii House is a very rare violet hybrid known from CT, MA. It is a sparsely to moderately pubescent plant with variable leaves—some unlobed and some with small lateral lobes and a large middle lobe. The cleistogamous peduncles are variably prostrate to ascending, and the cleistogamous flowers have few (if any) cilia on the sepals and rather elongate sepal auricles.

7×25a. Viola ×‌porteriana Pollard is a rare violet hybrid known from CT, MA, ME, NH, VT. It is a sparsely to moderately pubescent plant with narrow-ovate leaf blades, which are transitional in shape between V. cucullata and V. sagittata var. ovata. The sepals usually have some cilia (at least on the auricles), and the petal hairs are often slightly expanded at the apex (i.e., intermediate between the two parents).

16×27. Viola palmata × Viola sororia Viola ×‌populifolia Greene is a very rare violet hybrid known from CT, MA, VT. It has pubescent foliage, and usually some of the leaf blades show obscure lateral lobes separated by short sinuses (the first leaves and late season leaves are unlobed). Some forms of this plant (including the type of Viola populifolia) have broad-ovate leaf blades with a shallow basal sinus, a form that could easily be confused with V. sororia, but the cleistogamous capsules will show very few well-formed seeds. Such plants usually also show a broad, but shallow, indentation on each lateral margin of the leaf blade, suggesting a very weak lobing of the blade.

16×29. Viola palmata × Viola subsinuata Viola ×‌variabilis Greene is a very rare violet hybrid known from CT. It has pubescent foliage, often showing the first few leaves without lobed blades (as in 
 V. palmata), and subsequent leaves with 5- to 7-lobed blades that are more similar to V. subsinuata, and the lateral lobes are broadly dilated and without the characteristic, progressively smaller lobes toward the basal margins of the leaf blade. Late season 
leaf blades of this hybrid may be scarcely or not at all lobed.