birdfoot violet (Viola pedata)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
pansy violet
bird's-foot violet
bird-foot violet
birdfoot violet

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Viola pedata var. concolor Holm ex Brainerd
Viola pedata var. lineariloba DC.
Viola pedata var. ranunculifolia DC.

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of birdfoot violet
is Viola pedata L. This violet can be distinguished from other Viola spp.
(Violets) by its deeply lobed leaves, and the absence of hairs near the
throat of each flower. The common name refers to the appearance of the
leaves.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: This native perennial plant is 3-6" tall.

 

Leaves: The individual leaves and flowering stems emerge directly from
the rootstock. Each leaf is deeply divided into 3-5 palmate lobes, while
a lobe may be further subdivided into 2-3 smaller lobes. The lobes are
usually broader toward their tips than at the base of the leaf, and their
tips may have 1 or 2 small teeth. A typical leaf is about 1" 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.

 

Flowers: The flowers have 5 petals and 5 sepals; they are ¾–1½" across.

The sepals are green, while the petals are lavender or violet. Usually the

petals are the same color, although sometimes the upper two petals are

deep violet, while the lower three petals are light lavender. 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. There may be a mild floral

scent in some local ecotypes.

 

Fruit/Seeds: The coppery seeds can be ejected several inches from the

mother plant. There is a sugary gel on the seeds that attracts ants; these

ants often carry these seeds to their nests.

 

Roots: The root system consists of a tuberous caudex with long coarse

roots. Sometimes rhizomes are produced, forming vegetative offsets.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Unlike other violets, birdfoot violet

does not produce cleistogamous (that is, self-fertilizing, flowers not open-

ing) flowers. The coppery seeds can be ejected several inches from the

mother plant. There is a sugary gel on the seeds that attracts ants; these

ants often carry these seeds to their nests.

 

HABITAT TYPES: 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.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Birdfoot violet prefers full sun and dry
conditions. However, a little shade and more moisture is tolerated, if the
site is well- drained. The soil should be sandy or rocky to reduce competi-

tion from other plants; a somewhat acid pH is preferred. The greatest dan-

ger is crown rot from poorly drained, heavy soil. This plant is more difficult

to grow than most.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period is mid- to late
spring, and this plant may bloom during the fall.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Birdfoot violet is native distribution
includes all the eastern portion of the United States excluding Florida, into
parts of Canada (primarily Ontario), and extends beyond the Mississippi
River as far west as Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. It does not naturally
occur in the Rocky
Mountain region or the Pacific coast region.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: The flowers attract long-tongued bees,

small butterflies, and skippers. Bee visitors during the spring include

bumblebees and Anthophorine bees. Compared to other violets, the

flowers of this species attracts more butterflies and skippers, which are

often held horizontal to the ground (face up) and easier for such insects

to land on. The caterpillars of various Fritillary butterflies feed on the

foliage and flowers; the caterpillars of Speyeria idalia (regal fritillary)

may prefer this violet species over others as a food source. As noted

above, ants are attracted to the sugary gel on the seeds, and help to dis-

tribute them.

 

As will all violets, birdfoot violet is sometimes used as an ornamental,
although it can be difficult to grow.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Herb/Forb Families and Species

Home Page

Park Activities

   Calendar of Events
  
Volunteer Programs

   Park Regulations

Sky Meadows Park
  
Location
   Geography
   Habitats
   Trails
   Visiting Park

   Virtual Tours

Crooked Run Valley

   Historic District

   Architecture Sites

   Mt. Bleak

   Historical Events

   Park History

   Agriculture

Special Projects

   Blue Bird

   Biodiversity Survey

   BioBlitz 

 

Home Page

Nature Guide

   Purpose

   Databases

   Copyright

Plants

   Trees

   Shrubs

   Vines

   Forbs/Herbs

   Ferns

   Grasses

Animals

   Mammals

   Birds

   Reptiles

   Amphibians

   Fish

   Butterflies

   Bees

Fungi

   Mushrooms

   Lichens