Crooked Run Valley
Confederate blue violet
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: The currently accepted scientific name for Confederate blue violet is Viola sororia f. priceana.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The Confederate violet is the mottled form, f. priceana, of Viola sororia. The common name of this violet refers to the resemblance of the color of its flowers to the color of Confederate uniforms during the Civil War (pale greyish blue). The typical form of this species, Viola sororia sororia (common blue violet), which is more common, has flowers with a more homogenous shade of medium to dark violet.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION:
Habit: This is a herbaceous perennial plant with the leaves and flowers emerging directly from the rhizomes, and forming a basal rosette. A typical mature plant may be 6" across and 4" high, with the flowers slightly higher than the leaves.
Leaves: The leaves are individually up to 3" long and 3" across (excluding the long petioles), and vary in color from medium to dark green, depending on growing conditions. They are oval-ovate to orbicular-cordate, and crenate or serrate along the margins. The foliage is glabrous to slightly pubescent.
Flowers: The flowers are about ¾" across, and consist of 5 rounded petals; there are 2 upper petals, 2 lateral petals with white hairs (or beards) near the throat of the flower, and a lower petal that functions as a landing pad for visiting insects. Behind the petals, there are 5 sepals that are green and lanceolate. The petals of this form of Viola sororia are a mottled combination of blue-violet with white; from a distance, they appear pale to medium blue-violet. From the throat of the flower, there are dark blue-violet lines radiating outward (particularly on the lower petal).
Fruit/Seeds: During the summer, cleistogamous flowers without petals produce seeds, which are flung outward by mechanical ejection from the three-parted seed capsules.
Roots: The root system consists of thick, horizontally branched rhizomes; there is a tendency to form vegetative colonies.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Confederate violet propogates itself by reseeding and rhizome spread.
HABITAT TYPES: Natural habitats include meadows, open woodlands, woodland borders, savannas, and wooded slopes along rivers or lakes. In more developed areas, it is sometimes found in city parks, lawns, and along hedges or buildings.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The preference is partial sun or light shade, and moist to mesic conditions, although full sun is tolerated if there is sufficient moisture. The soil should be a rich silty loam or clay loam with above average amounts of organic matter.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 1-1½ months.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: As a variation of the common blue violet, confederate violet has the same general distribution. Common blue violet naturally occurs throughout the eastern portion of the United States, from Florida to Maine. It extends west through the Gulf Coast states, through the Ohio Valley and the upper mid-West. It does not naturally occur in the Rocky Mountain states, far southwestern states, and far western states. Although it does not occur in the Canadian maritime provinces, it does occur in Quebec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan provinces.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The flowers have few visitors (hence the need for cleistogamous flowers), but sometimes they attract bees and other insects. The species Andrena viola (violet andrenid bee) is an oligolectic visitor of Viola spp. (Violets). The caterpillars of many Fritillary butterflies (Speyeria spp., Boloria spp., & Euptoieta claudia) feed on the foliage of Violets. Various upland gamebirds and small mammals occasionally eat the seeds, including the wild turkey, bobwhite, mourning dove, and white-footed mouse. Wild turkeys also eat the leaves and fleshy roots of violets. Although it is not a preferred food source, mammalian herbivores occasionally eat the foliage.
Confederate blue violet (Viola sororia f. priceana)