Birdfoot Violet, Viola pedata

Birdfoot Violet

Viola pedata

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Spring
Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Soil Conditions: Sand, Rocky
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Purple, Violet
Fragrance: No
Height: 3-6 inches
Spacing: 3-6 inches

Birdfoot Violet, Viola pedata, features deeply divided leaves which somewhat resemble a birds foot. A native wildflower that commonly occurs in dryish soils in rocky woods, slopes, glades and roadsides. It is a rhizomatous, stemless perennial (to 4 inches tall).

A typical leaf is about 1inch long and across (excluding the petiole). The petiole of each leaf is rather long and slender. The slender flowering stems are at least as long as the petioles; they are either green or purple. Each stem curves abruptly downward near the flower. The entire plant is hairless, or nearly so.

The flowers have 5 petals and 5 sepals and they are ¾–1½ inches across. The sepals are green, while the petals are pale blue-violet to dark purple-violet. Usually the petals are the same color, although sometimes the upper two petals are dark purple-violet, while the lower three petals are pale blue-violet. Toward the throat of the flower, the lower petal is white with fine violet lines that function as nectar guides. There are no white hairs near the throat. The stamens are a conspicuous golden yellow. The blooming period is mid- to late spring, and this plant may bloom during the fall. There may be a mild floral scent in some local ecotypes. Unlike other violets, Birdfoot Violet does not produce cleistogamous flowers. The coppery seeds can be ejected several inches from the mother plant. There is a sugary gel on the seeds that attracts ants. Ants often carry these seeds to their nests.

Habitats include upland areas of black soil prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, sandstone glades, cherty slopes, thinly wooded bluffs, openings in rocky or sandy forests, sandy Black Oak savannas, and sand dunes near Lake Michigan. This plant is largely restricted to high quality habitats.

Best grown in sandy or gravelly, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Good soil drainage is the key to growing this plant well.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Does not spread by runners.
  May self-seed in optimum growing conditions.
  Considered more difficult to grow than most other violets.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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