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Wisconsin Native Violets

Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia
Common Blue Violet
Wisconsin State Flower

Violets are often bemoaned as weeds when found in lawns and otherwise impugned for their tendency to easily reseed and spread. Once you start wandering in the woods you'll be amazed at how many violet species turn up, including white, yellow and even green flowered species.

Fourteen native violet names are listed for Wisconsin. The Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia, is the Wisconsin state flower.

With their heart shaped leaves and cheery blue flowers, violets aren’t really bad guys – in fact they are the host plant for a wide range of butterflies known as fritillaries. Like monarchs, whose caterpillars only feed on milkweed, the fourteen species of greater fritillaries (genus Speyeria) and sixteen lesser fritillaries (genus Bolloria) will only lay their eggs where there are violets for their larva to feed upon.

butterflies seem to be able to find the violets even after they have wilted and blown away. It is possible that they can smell the roots of violets. Curiously, females of other species of fritillaries do not appear to be terribly careful about finding the presence of violets. They seem to choose shaded, weedy places that are likely to favor the growth of violets, thus many eggs are lost when the larvae search in vain for their food and cannot find it. These mothers can afford to be careless because they lay as many as two thousand eggs, so it does not matter if many are lost.

Violets are also host plants for the Mining Bee, a specialist pollinator that only visits violets.

Violets gain the benefits of genetic diversity through insect pollination as well as of being able to reproduce outside of insect pollinators' range through self-pollination.

Great Spangled Fruitillary caterpillar on violet

An interesting thing about violets, members of the genus viola, is that most species after producing regular flowers will sometimes form tiny, inconspicuous flowers, cleistogamous flowers, that look simply like buds that haven't bloomed. These flowers are being pollinated, but through self-pollination! The pollen travels from the stamen down into the flower's own ovary.

Pollinators such as bees never can get to the flowers' sexual parts, and the flowers are obliged to fertilize themselves with their own pollen. The violet flowers gain the benefits of genetic diversity through insect pollination as well as of being able to grow outside of insect pollinators range through self-pollination.

Of course with self-fertilizing like this there is no mingling of genetic information from two different parents. However, this was accomplished with the regular flowers produced earlier in the season. However, fruit capsules developed from cleistogamous flowers typically produce lots of perfectly fertile seeds.

Wisconsin Native Violet Catalog

Arrow-Leaved Violet

Arrow-Leaved Violet, Viola sagittata Height: 4-8 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-7
Soil: Loam, Sand, Clay, Rocky
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Blue, Purple

Birdfoot Violet

Birdfoot Violet, Viola pedata Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 4-8
Soil : Sand, Rocky
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Purple, Violet

Canada Violet

Canada Violet, Viola canadensis Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Summer
Sun: Shade
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist
Color: Orange, White

Common Blue Violet

Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia Height: 6-12 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4-7
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist
Color: White, Blue, Pink, Purple

Downy Yellow Violet

Downy Yellow Violet, Viola pubescens Height: 6-12 inches
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Summer
Sun: Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 4-7
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry
Color: Orange, Yellow

Early Blue Violet

Early Blue Violet, Viola palmata Height: 6-12 inches
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Summer
Sun: Part Shade
Zones: 4-10
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist
Color: Purple

Field Pansy

Field Pansy, Viola bicolor Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 5-10
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Moist
Color: Yellow, Violet

Halberdleaf Yellow Violet

Halberdleaf Yellow Violet, Viola hastata Height: 6-12 Inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 5-7
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry
Color: White, Yellow

Labrador Violet

Labrador Violet, Viola labradorica Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-10
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue, Purple, Lavender

Lanceleaf Violet

Lanceleaf Violet, Viola lanceolata Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 3-10
Soil: Loam, Clay
Moisture: Moist, Wet
Color: White

Longspur Violet

Longspur Violet, Viola rostrata Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Summer
Sun: Shade
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist
Color: Purple

Marsh Blue Violet

Marsh Blue Violet, Viola cucullata Height: 6-12 inches
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Sunner
Sun: Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Moist, Wet
Color: Blue, Violet

Sweet White Violet

Sweet White Violet, Viola blanda Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Summer
Sun: Part Shade
Zones: 2-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium, Moist, Wet
Color: White

Three-Part Violet

Threepart Violet, Viola tripartita Height: 12-18 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 5-7
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist, Wet
Color: Yellow

Further Information:

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs
 Lovely Native Phlox
 Use Eggshells For Your Plants
 How to Use Banana Peels in Your Garden

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