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This native perennial wildflower is 6-14" tall, producing both basal and cauline leaves. The blades of both basal and cauline leaves are up to 4" long and 2½" across; they are medium to dark green, cordate or oval-cordate, palmately veined, and slightly crenate along their margins. The upper surfaces of the blades are hairless. For the typical variety of Canada Violet, the lower surfaces of the blades are largely hairless, except for fine hairs along the major veins. For var. rugulosa, these lower surfaces are more hairy. Basal leaves have longer petioles than cauline leaves. The flowering plants produce stems with alternate leaves. These stems are light green, somewhat angular, and sometimes finely pubescent. At the base of the petioles of each alternate leaf, there is a pair of linear-lanceolate stipules up to 1/3" long; these stipules lack teeth. Individual flowers are produced from the axils of the alternate leaves. The slender pedicels raise the flowers only a little above the foliage. Each flower is ½–¾" across, consisting of 5 white petals, 5 light green sepals, and a short nectar spur; the petals are much larger than the sepals. The reproductive organs are largely hidden within the throat of the flower. The lower petal has dark purple veins, while the two lateral petals have such veins to a lesser extent. The two lateral petals also have small tufts of hairs near the throat of the flower, where there is a conspicuous yellow patch. The back sides of the petals are light purple. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and sometimes during the fall. Usually, only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time. Later in the summer, inconspicuous cleistogamous flowers are produced, which are self-fertile. Each fertile flower is replaced by an ovoid seed capsule up to ½" long. This capsule is initially green, but it later turns brown and divides into 3 segments, flinging the seeds. The root system is fibrous and either rhizomatous or stoloniferous. Colonies of plants are often produced.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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