Native Violas and Violets of Louisiana
Flowers: Viola pedata, V. palmata, V. langlosii, V. primulifolia
Members of the Viola family (Violets) are some of the first flowers to appear in early spring. Violets are an excellent ground cover plant for shady or part sunny areas and can be used in place of expensive, high maintenance exotic turf grass.
The flowers can be blue, purple or white. The leaves and flowers are edible and are rich in vitamins A and C. Violas are the host plant for the Variegated Fritillary Butterfly. There are many varieties of Violets that are native to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast states.
Some of my favorite native violas include Birdfoot (Birds-foot), Early Blue, Langlois and White Bog Violets.
Native Violets are beautiful, useful and make excellent groundcovers...
So why would anyone kill them to make room for expensive, high maintenance, useless exotic turf grass?
Enjoy Sweet Violets while you read. - Dinah Shore
Birdfoot Violet, Viola pedata
Birdfoot Violet (also Birds-foot), Viola pedata
Many of the photos seen here can be purchased in Naturegirl7's Zazzle Shop as print-on-demand products such as posters, cards, apparel, mugs, etc.
Birdfoot Violets stand about 3 to 5 inches tall. they have yellow centers with Bicolor petals in shades of purple and lavender-blue. The color varies according to the soil conditions such as fertility, acidity and location. Sometimes white flowers with dark veins occur.
The deeply veined foliage looks like an outstretched bird foot.
Blooms appear from March through April in Louisiana. When Birdfoot violets are cultivated, they will sometimes bloom again in early summer and will not go dormant during late summer.
Birdfoot Violet is widely distributed in the wild pine land soils of Louisiana and also in Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas.
These violets prefer acid to slightly acid, sandy soils. They thrive in average (not too rich) garden soil. Since, in the wild, the roots are protected by native grasses, cultivated bird foot violets should be mulched in winter to prevent winter-kill.
Birdfoot Violets need full sun so they are great for rock gardens. Plant them in early spring or fall. Local nursery grown stock is superior to collected specimens. It's best not to collect from the wild, unless the violets are on your own property or the stand is in danger of being destroyed by construction.
Solid Blue Birds-foot Violets
The root system of Birdfoot Violets is quite different from the creeping, knotty rootstock of most other violets. Birdfoot violets have a bulb-like root which looks like a miniature celeriac root with course feeder roots.
The method of seed production is also different. Unlike most other violets which produce self-fertile, hidden seed pods, Birdfoot violets produce seeds from the actual flowers. So if you want Birdfoot Violets to spread, you must not pick the flowers.
Birdfoot Violets look best and do well when allowed to form clusters in sunny well drained areas. Many native stands have been killed out by reforestation, so it is important to keep the area where birdfoot violets are growing open and free of shade.
Wild Violets Postcard
Ground Cover or Lawn Poll
Do you use groundcovers like Violets or are you a lawn person?
Early Blue Violet
Early Blue Violet, Viola palmata
This lovely large violet is dark blue with a cream colored throat. The lower petals have purple veins. The foliage is deeply toothed, similar to Birdfoot Violets, but is more palm-like, hence the botanical name palmata.
Early Blue Violets can form large colonies in the open shade of rich deciduous woods.
The flowers appear from March through April in Louisiana.
Early Blue Violets like good average to dry, neutral to slightly acid soil. High open shade is best for prolific blooming. They are great for colonizing or as a ground cover between later blooming taller plants and will also work well as a low border.
Plant in spring or fall. Space the plants 6-12 inches a part. Each plant will form a clump. Sit the root stock about 1/2 to 1 inch deep and mulch.
Divide clumps in spring or fall. These violets will self sow readily.
The foliage varies according to the time of year. The leaves are heart shaped when they first emerge in early spring, then later leaves are more deeply lobed.
Early Blue Violet Up Close
Langlois Violet, Viola langloisii
There are many types of common native violets, depending on the part of the country you live in. In Louisiana (especially in the southern part of the state), one of the most common of the blue or purple native violets is the Langlois Violet.
To this day, I do not understand why anyone would not welcome these lovely, hardy edible plants into their yards. I would much rather have a lawn of violets and other useful ground cover plants than one of boring, useless, high maintenance exotic turf grass.
Langlois Violets have pale blue flowers in early spring and deep green, heart shaped (ovate-triangular) leaves.
Common Violets of any kind are easy to grow and will self seed readily from hidden, self-fertile seed pods. Langlois Violets are native to hardwood forests so they are one of the plants that will grow well in shade to part sun.
The self seeding pods will produce many plants and the knotty root stock can be divided in spring, fall or right after blooming.
Space 10 inches or more apart. Set crowns 1/2 to 1 inch deep. They can be used as a groundcover or in large clumps in shady to partly sunny areas.
History and Cultivation of Scented Violets
A great source of information about beautiful scented violets.
White Bog Violet
White Bog Violets
White Bog Violet is a violet of the wetlands in both pine and hardwood areas in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coastal states. White blooms occur from late winter through spring. Leaves are triangular, but more blade like than blue violets and grow from white cord-like stolons.
They begin blooming in early February and bloom through April.
White Bog Violets need moisture and sun to part sun. They are wonderful to naturalize as a groundcover in wet areas where other plants and turf grass won't grow. Pollinators are attracted to the lovely white flowers. Mowing on a high setting will keep the wild grasses under control while allowing the violets to thrive.
Propagate by self-seeding or by root division as with other violets.
Blue Violets Mug
Violets at Zazzle
Some Sweet Designs by naturegirl7
Violet French Hard Candy
Old-fashioned violet candy, so sweet.
Viola Mother's Day Card
During Victorian times, a bouquet of Violets was a gentleman's flower of choice to woo his lady fair.
More About Louisiana Wildflowers
- 15 Easy to Grow Southern Wildflowers
This page features 15 native perennial flowering plants complete with photographs of and information plus links to more about each. These beauties will thrive in the hot, humid South.
- Gardening with Native Plants
Using native plants in the landscape and sustainable gardening are 2 hot topics, today. Gardening with Native Plants will provide you with lists of wildflowers and native plants as well as techniques and links to more information to get you started..
- Please Eat the Wild Flowers
For centuries, people have been eating wild flowers and native plants. There are so many tasty buds out there, free for the taking, if you know what to look for. I've included some of our favorite edible wild flowers and plants with descriptions,...
© 2010 Yvonne L. B.