Plant of the Week
Marsh Blue Violet (Viola cucullata Aiton)
Marsh Blue Violet is in the Violaceae (Violet) family. This family contains about 800 species worldwide. Most are tropical trees or shrubs. Violets are mostly herbaceous (some shrubs) and make up about 4-500 of the species, mostly found in the northern hemisphere. About 70 species and numerous hybrids are known from North America and Hawaii. This violet species is found from Minnesota south to Arkansas and Mississippi, east to all New England and south to Georgia. It is also known from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland.
The violets of North America come in two general forms, the stemmed violets and the stemless violets. Stemmed violets produce leaves and flowers on upright stems. Stemless violets produce leaves and flowers from and underground vertical or horizontal stem. Marsh blue violet is a stemless violet. It is easily differentiated from other eastern stemless blue violets by the length of its peduncle (the flower stalk). It is generally taller (up to 25 cm or 10 in) than any of the leaves on the plant. Other stemless blue violets have peduncles shorter than or the same height as the leaves. The leaves are heart-shaped and about 5 cm (2 in) long by 5 cm (2 in) at flowering time. Summer leaves are up to 10 cm (4 in) long and wide. Flowers are present in April to June depending on location.
Marsh Blue Violet gets its common name because the typical habitat is in wet soils. It is common on banks of small streams, but is also found at the edge of wetlands, sunny or shaded wet fields, and lake margins.