Sweet violet (non-native, escapee)

Image of sweet violet

Description:

The hooked stigma of the non-native Viola odorata L. It is somewhat difficult at least superficially to distinguish this species from the native bog violet, Viola nephrophylla.Subtle differences include a usually darker flower color, stems that can be short caulescent but which can also be caulescent like V. nephrophylla, and leaves and peduncles which are puberulent versus the mainly glabrous herbage of V. nephrophylla. And, the habitats of the two species are different (this location while shady, was not especially moist nor riparian).Generally, however, the leaves and flowers are quite similar and are of a similar size. Both species also have petals with lateral beard hairs.If a sweet fragance is present, then V. odorata lives up to its specific epithet and that would represent another potential difference for field identification. But a scent isn't always evident (and it wasn't with these plants) and the stem caulescence really wasn't clear in this escaped population of just three plants.Something though that does differentiate the two is the hooked stigma of V. odorata as shown above versus the straight stigma of the native V. nephrophylla. Our other native species generally also have straight stigmas (one exception however is V. adunca).More often the introduced V. odorata is seen growing in lawns where, because of mowing, they remain lower in stature than plants where they are allowed to grow to a more normal size.The branch laying on the ground is from a large Box Elder tree (Acer negundo). The moss growing on the fallen branch is Orthotrichum affine.April 10, 2013, Salt Lake County, Utah open space at approx. 4360 ft. elev.

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Tony Frates
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