Viola palmata

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Viola palmata
Viola palmata Gil.jpg
Photo was taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Violales
Family: Violaceae
Genus: Viola
Species: V. palmata
Binomial name
Viola palmata
L. (pro sp.)
Viol palm dist.jpg
Natural range of Viola palmata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Early blue violet, Wood violet

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: V. stoneana; V. palmata; V. chalcosperma Brainerd.[1]

Variations: V. palmata var. triloba.[2]


"Herbaceous, rhizomatous or stoloniferous perennials, or winter annuals. Leaves crenate or crenate-serrate, dissected, lobed or unlobed; petiolate; stipules conspicuous. Flowers zygomorphic, peduncles directly from the rhizome (acaulescent) or peduncles axillary (caulescent). Chasmogamous flowers with lateral petals often bearded, lower petal spurred; anthers usually seated in the throat, orange appendages conspicuous, lower stamens spurred; spurs fitting in to the spur of the corolla; styles usually clavate, variously shaped at the apex. Dates for Viola, except V. pedata, are for Chasmogamous flowering only, cleistogamous flowering and fruiting commence shortly after chasmogamous flowering and continues until frost. Hybrids are so numerous in this genus that space is not taken to list them."[3]

"Plant acaulescent; rhizomes elongate, stocky, usually more than 4 mm in diam., horizontal, often freely branched. Leaves widely ovate, 5-10 cm long, or occasionally larger, crenate, unlobed, lobed or dissected, cordate, glabrous or pubescent; petioles to 2 dm long; stipules linear to linear-lanceolate, 0.5-2 cm long, fimbriate, rarely entire. Peduncles of chasmogamous flowers nearly as long as the leaves, or slightly longer. Chasmogamous flowers 1.5-4 cm broad, not flat, petals deep reddish violet, lateral petals bearded with clavate trichomes, spurred petal usually glabrous, or occasionally with some trichomes; sepals 6-10 mm long, acute to obtuse, glabrous to ciliate or only the auricles ciliate, auricles 0.5-1 mm long; stamen appendages brilliant orange, deep in the throat of the flower; style clavate. Cleistogamous flowers on divergent peduncles 3-12 cm long or the peduncles erect and short; sepals 4-6 mm long, acute, auricles ca. 1 mm long. Capsules 6-12 mm long. Seeds brown, usually mottled, 1.5-2.3 mm long."[3]




In the Coastal Plain in Florida and Georgia, V. palmata has been found in natural longleaf stands; longleaf pine-wiregrass savannas; loamy soil along mesic hardwood slopes; seepages in ravines; river banks; sandy loam under beech-magnolia forests; hardwood hammocks; oak-palmetto woods; alluvial soil of floodplain forests; between road and slash pine/wiregrass flatwoods; recently burned longleaf pine; longleaf pine-palmetto flats; loamy sand of grassy savanna; second growth loblolly pinewoods; sandy soil of turkey oak-longleaf pine flats; calcareous bluffs; upland mixed woodlands; beech-magnolia forests; and loamy humus of shallow depression of shaded limestone rock in hardwood maritime hammock.[4][5] It has been found to be extremely vulnerable to disturbance[5] however has been found growing along roadsides, sands of disturbed hillside bogs, lakesides, calcareous banks between earth road and drainage canal, ectone between oak woodland and open powerline corridor, heavily cattle grazed palmetto flatwoods, and a powerline transect through a longleaf pine-wiregrass savanna.[4]

V. palmata became absent in response to military training in west Georgia.[6] It also became absent in response to soil disturbance by agriculture in southwest Georgia.[7] V. palmata increased its frequency in response to soil disturbance by clearcutting and chopping in north Florida flatwoods forests.[8]

Substrate types include loamy soil, loamy sand, sandy loam, peaty sand, alluvial soil, sandy-peaty soil, sandy-clayey soil, limestone and loamy humus.[4] Associated species include Carex crebriflora, Viola floridana, Aristida, Eleocharis, V. villosa, V. lanceolata, Chaptalia, Lycopodium, Sisyrinchium, Calopogon, and Hypericum.[4]


V. palmata is a summer forb.[5] It has been recorded flowering January through May, August, September, and in December with peak inflorescence in February and March.[9][4] It has been observed fruiting February, March, April, August and September.[4]

Seed dispersal

V. palmata is thought to be dispersed by ants and/or explosive dehiscence.[10]

Fire ecology

Populations of Viola palmata have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[11] It has been observed flowering February and March after a fire.[4]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

The flowers can be candied, used in soups and baking. The roots are toxic and should be avoided.[12]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draf of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draf of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 665. Print.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, K. Craddock Burks, Robert K. Godfrey, S. W. Leonard, Wilson Baker, James R. Burkhalter, Robert Kral, L. B. Trott, J. P. Gillespie, D. B. Ward, J. Beckner, Patricia Elliot, Cecil R Slaughter, S. R. Harrison, C. Jackson, Nir L. Gil, Angus Gholson, Steve L. Orzell, Edwin L. Bridges, A. G. Shuey, Sidney McDaniel, S. C. Hood, Richard Carter, Mark A Garland, Richard S. Mitchell, Karen MacClendon, B. & M. Boothe, M. R. Darst, Rodie White, R. A. Norris, R. Komarek. States and Counties: Florida: Calhoun, Clay, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Seminole, St. Johns, Taylor, Wakulla, Washington. Georgia: Thomas. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kirkman, L. K., K. L. Coffey, et al. (2004). "Ground cover recovery patterns and life-history traits: implications for restoration obstacles and opportunities in a species-rich savanna." Journal of Ecology 92: 409-421.
  6. Dale, V.H., S.C. Beyeler, and B. Jackson. (2002). Understory vegetation indicators of anthropogenic disturbance in longleaf pine forests at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA. Ecological Indicators 1(3):155-170.
  7. Kirkman, L.K., K.L. Coffey, R.J. Mitchell, and E.B. Moser. Ground Cover Recovery Patterns and Life-History Traits: Implications for Restoration Obstacles and Opportunities in a Species-Rich Savanna. (2004). Journal of Ecology 92(3):409-421.
  8. Moore, W.H., B.F. Swindel, and W.S. Terry. (1982). Vegetative Response to Clearcutting and Chopping in a North Florida Flatwoods Forest. Journal of Range Management 35(2):214-218.
  9. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 15 DEC 2016
  10. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  11. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  12. Fernald, et al. 1958. Edible Plants of Eastern North America. Harper and Row Publishers, New York.