Bird’s-Foot Violet

Viola pedata

pa-04-2013.jpg

Bird's-Foot Violet
Danny Brown
Family

Violaceae (violets)

Description

Flowers about 1 inch across. Has two color phases: either all 5 petals pale lilac or lavender, or the upper 2 petals deep, velvety purple and the 3 lower petals pale lilac to lavender. Rare color patterns are white and combinations of the above. The center of the united stamens is always deep orange. Blooms April-June. Leaves deeply dissected “like a bird’s foot.” Leaves developing later in the season have somewhat wider, straplike segments.

Size

Height: to 6 inches.

birds_foot_violet_bicolored_3-26-12.jpg

Photo of bird's-foot violet (bicolored form)
Bird’s-Foot Violet (Purple and Lavender Form)

birds_foot_violet_lavender_form_4-2-12.jpg

Photo of bird's-foot violet, lavender form
Bird's-Foot Violet (Lavender Form)
Habitat and conservation

Occurs on rocky, well-drained, usually acid soils of open woods, road embankments, glades, bluffs, and ridges. Appreciates disturbed areas with perfect drainage but cannot survive the later intrusion of competing plants.

image of Bird's Foot Violet Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Human connections

Though it can be difficult to supply the dry, sunny sites bird's-foot violet requires, this species can be used in home gardening. Always purchase your native wildflowers from a responsible dealer!

Ecosystem connections

This species is an excellent nectar plant for butterflies, and some butterflies, particularly the fritillaries, use the foliage of violets as their caterpillars' food plant.