Friday, May 7, 2010

White Violet - Viola primulifolia

White violet (Viola primulifolia) is very difficult to distinguish from common blue violet (V. soraria) when they are not in bloom.  Both have very similar heart-shaped leaves and both are identical in size.  Both also have nearly identical ranges in Florida, though white violet does not occur beyond the U.S. border into Canada.
White violet is very easy to grow and quite adaptable to many home landscape settings.  I have planted it beneath the canopy of our deciduous hardwood hammock in Pinellas County, but it has spread over the years to nearly every shaded and semi-shaded area of our yard.  Its many crystalline white flowers are abundant in late winter to very early spring, though (like most members of this genus) it may produce cleistogamous flowers during other months which produce fertile seed.  Violet seed capsules dehisce with some energy and the seeds are expelled outward for some distance.
White violet is commonly available from Florida's native plant nurseries and is a good choice to mix with other woodland wildflowers and ferns to give some color and character to shady areas of the landscape.

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