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Similar but less problematic plants:
Hepatica americana Hepatica americana
Viola sororia is often confused with:
Viola bicolor Close up of flower
Viola tricolor Viola tricolor flower.
Viola x wittrockiana Flowers
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Viola striata Viola striata
Viola pubescens Viola pennsylvanica
Viola pedata Viola pedata

Wood Violet Viola sororia

Previously known as:

  • Viola papilionacea
Phonetic Spelling
vy-OH-la so-ROR-ee-uh
Description

Viola sororia, known as the common blue violet, is a stemless herbaceous perennial in the Violaceae family. It appears in woods, thickets, and along streambeds. It has glossy green heart-shaped leaves. The purple flowers have white throats and the three lower petals are somewhat hairy. The erect flower stem droops slightly and the flowers bend toward the ground. It tolerates wet soil, clay soil, and being planted near black walnut trees. Blooms in spring; stoloniferous and will spread quickly-may become invasive in fertile, moist locations; used as a wildflower in lawns, rock gardens, edging, and border. This plant seeds freely and can be used as a groundcover along walls and path edges as mowing can limit its spread.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom: Spring-Summer, April-August

Wildlife Value: Nectar from the flowers attract butterflies and bees.  Members of the genus Viola support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilisAndrena (Gonandrena) integraand Andrena (Gonandrena) platypariaThis plant is resistant to damage by deer.

Insects, Diseases and Other Problems: No serious insect or disease problems.  It self-seeds freely and in lawns and gardens can become a weed. 

Quick ID

  • Leaves are basal, heart-shaped, crenate and subpeltate
  • Many solitary, 2 cm flowers on slender, peltate stalks
  • Acaulescent herbaceous plant with purple to white spring flowers
  • Lateral petals with lion mane pubescence basally
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Freckles'
  • 'Rubra'
Tags:
#bees#bumble bees#purple#sun#full sun#partial shade#perennial#violet#white flowers#easy to grow#wildlife plant#purple flowers#wildflowers#partial sun#moths#shade tolerant#weedy#native perennial#nectar plant#shade garden#colorful#spring flowers#shade flower#winter interest#host plant#accent plant#mass planting#high maintenance#flowering#black walnut#seeds#host#dappled shade#wet sites#small mammals#specialized bees#moist soil#food source#cpp#bumblebees#NC native#full sun flowers#perennial flowers#violet flowers#summer flowers#flower garden#dappled sunlight#full sunlight#deer resistant#small and large mammals#clumps#native garden#attractive foliage#seed pods#small plant#groundcover#sunshine#white flower#purple flower#summer interest#borders#groups#self-seeding#spring interest#native groundcover#pollinator plant#edible garden#native wildflower#wildflower garden#clumping#fantz#larval host plant#summer fruits#food source summer#flower#spring fruits#forb#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source spring#lawn weed#food source herbage#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#small group plantings#wet soils tolerant#fruits#clay soils tolerant#native#perennials#bird friendly#food source hard-mast fruit#groundcovers that can be mowed#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#pollinator#food source root#butterfly friendly#birds#butterflies#pollinators#larval host#butterfly larvae#moth larvae#full shade#flowers#flowers winter#winter color purple#winter flowers#fruit#flowers spring#winter garden#seed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Freckles'
  • 'Rubra'
Tags:
#bees#bumble bees#purple#sun#full sun#partial shade#perennial#violet#white flowers#easy to grow#wildlife plant#purple flowers#wildflowers#partial sun#moths#shade tolerant#weedy#native perennial#nectar plant#shade garden#colorful#spring flowers#shade flower#winter interest#host plant#accent plant#mass planting#high maintenance#flowering#black walnut#seeds#host#dappled shade#wet sites#small mammals#specialized bees#moist soil#food source#cpp#bumblebees#NC native#full sun flowers#perennial flowers#violet flowers#summer flowers#flower garden#dappled sunlight#full sunlight#deer resistant#small and large mammals#clumps#native garden#attractive foliage#seed pods#small plant#groundcover#sunshine#white flower#purple flower#summer interest#borders#groups#self-seeding#spring interest#native groundcover#pollinator plant#edible garden#native wildflower#wildflower garden#clumping#fantz#larval host plant#summer fruits#food source summer#flower#spring fruits#forb#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source spring#lawn weed#food source herbage#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#small group plantings#wet soils tolerant#fruits#clay soils tolerant#native#perennials#bird friendly#food source hard-mast fruit#groundcovers that can be mowed#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#pollinator#food source root#butterfly friendly#birds#butterflies#pollinators#larval host#butterfly larvae#moth larvae#full shade#flowers#flowers winter#winter color purple#winter flowers#fruit#flowers spring#winter garden#seed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Viola
    Species:
    sororia
    Family:
    Violaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar from the flowers attract butterflies and bees.  Members of the genus Viola support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia. This plant is resistant to damage by deer. Butterflies and moths use this plant as a larval host. Birds and small mammals use the seed fruits as a food source.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Defines Paths
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    Young leaves can be used in salads or cooked as greens. Flowers are often added to salads or desserts.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Maintenance:
    High
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit is a 3-chambered capsule. In North Carolina, fruits are available from April to June.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are borne on long peduncles from ground slightly overtopping leaves, zygomorphic, deep blue-violet to white, nodding;, petals 5, unequal, uppermost pair nearly erect, lateral pair spreading, blue to whitened with medial basal erect pubescence, lowermost petal white basally, veins dark violet; spur to .1 inch; sepals 5. In North Carolina, flowers are purple to purplish-white and appear from February to May.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Velvety
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are basal, simple, cordate, acute, serrate to crenate, pubescent underneath, subpeltate, to 4 in across; stipules linear-lanceolate.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are lacking.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy