Thursday, May 6, 2010

Early Blue Violet - Viola palmata

Early blue violet (Viola palmata) has undergone a great many taxonomic name changes over the years.  Regardless, it is one of our most unique species and is easily identified by its deeply lobed leaves.  In fact, one of its incorrect Latin names (V. septemloba) calls attention to that. 
Early blue violet is widely distributed throughout Florida, and is found in nearly every county except the extreme south in pine flatwoods, deciduous hammocks, and moist prairies.  As such, it is one of our most drought tolerant and adaptable violets. 
This species is deciduous during the winter.  Its leaves emerge in early spring and soon form a basal rosette of a half dozen or more leaves.  These are several inches long and stand several inches above the ground.  Flowering occurs from early to late spring.  The flowers are a rich purple in color and stand several inches above the rosette of leaves.
I have found that this species does best if given a bit more sun than most other violets.  While it does not thrive under sunny conditions, it also declines in full shade.  Give it a bit of morning sun or good dappled light during the day and it will bloom much better. 
Although this is one of our most attractive violets, it is only rarely offered for sale by commercial nurseries associated with AFNN - the Association of Florida Native Nurseries.  It is easy to grow and will self sow once established in your landscape.  Perhaps a bit of demand from the public will change its relative unavailability in the market in years ahead.

1 comment:

  1. This violet grew around the lakes where I grew up (Lowndes County, GA and the bordering FL counties). Our violets had a larger bloom than the smaller heart leaf wood violets, but a smaller bloom than the Bird Foot Violets of the Callaway Gardens -Pine Mountain area in Georgia.

    Thanks for your wonderful site. Native plants are a national treasure.

    Georgia Smith
    Tallahassee, FL


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