common blue violet

(Viola sororia)

Conservation Status
common blue violet
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Common blue violet is a stemless violet. It is an erect, perennial forb that rises from an underground stem (rhizome). It can be 3 to 12 tall but in Minnesota it is usually no more than 8 in height. The rhizome is short, stout, and horizontal or oblique. It sometimes branches to form colonies. It does not produce above-ground creeping runners (stolons).

There is no central stem. A rosette of basal leaves rise directly from the rhizome on up to 6 long leaf stalks (petioles). The petioles are strongly ascending, hairy, and have a single groove on the upper (dorsal) side. At the base of each petiole is a pair of leaf-like appendages (stipules). The stipules are green, less than long, and separate completely from the petiole. Leaf blades are held at an angle to the petiole. They are broadly egg-shaped to kidney-shaped, rounded or angled at the tip, and heart-shaped at the base. Most are as wide as they are long and most are broadly angled at the tip. They are unlobed except for the heart-shaped base. The sinus at the base of the blade is relatively broad and the lobes do not touch. Summer leaves are 2 to 5 wide. The hairiness of the leaves varies between populations, from nearly hairless to conspicuously covered with spreading hairs. The upper surface may be hairy or hairless. The lower surface is usually hairy at least at the base. The margins are toothed with rounded to slightly sharp teeth.

One to several leafless flower stalks (scapes) rise from the rootstock at the middle of the rosette. The scape is erect, leafless, usually hairy, and topped with a solitary flower. It is abruptly curved downward near the top. It is usually about 4 long, shorter than the petioles, and the flowers are usually overtopped by the leaves.

Two types of flowers are produced: open, cross-pollinated (chasmogamous) flowers are produced in the spring; and closed, self-fertilizing (cleistogamous) flowers are produced in the summer.

Cross-pollinated flowers are ¾ to 13 16 long and wide. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are green and shorter than the petals. The petals are usually medium violet with a dark violet ring near the base and white at the base. They are sometimes completely white. The two upper petals are erect or bent backward. The two lateral petals are spreading, white at the base, and have a tuft of white hairs (beard) near the throat. The lower petal is as long as the lateral petals but is not bearded. It has conspicuous, dark purple veins near the throat and a hooked, rounded spur at the base. The 5 stamens are orange and have very short filaments. They do not protrude from the throat of the corolla and are concealed by the beards of the petals. The flowers are not fragrant.

Self-pollinating flowers are inconspicuous. They occur on shorter scapes that may be arched or lie flat on the ground.

The fruit is an egg-shaped to ellipse-shaped, ¼ to long, hairless capsule with many brown seeds. The capsule protrudes noticeably beyond the persistent sepals.




3 to 8


Flower Color


Violet to white


Similar Species


Northern bog violet (Viola nephrophylla) lower petal is bearded.


Moist to wet. Woods, meadows.




April to June


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Widespread and very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Malpighiales (nances, willows, and allies)  


Violaceae (violet)  
  Subfamily Violoideae  
  Tribe Violeae  
  Genus Viola (violets)  
  Subgenus Viola (pansies and violets)  
  Section Nosphinium  
  Subsection Borealiamericanae (eastern American blue violets)  

Subordinate Taxa


Authorities do not agree on the subordinate taxa of Viola sororia. Some authorities, including GRIN and ITIS, list four varieties. In this classification, common blue violet is Viola sororia var. sororia and northern bog violet is Viola sororia var. affinis. Others, including USDA PLANTS, NCBI, Gleason & Cronquist, and Voss, do not recognize any varieties. In this classification, common blue violet is Viola sororia and northern bog violet is Viola nephrophylla. The Minnesota DNR (MNTaxa) follows the latter classification, as does




Viola chalcosperma

Viola X champlainensis

Viola floridana

Viola X insessa

Viola langloisii

Viola langloisii var. pedatiloba

Viola latiuscula

Viola X melissifolia

Viola X montivaga

Viola X napae

Viola palmata var. sororia

Viola papilionacea

Viola papilionacea var. priceana

Viola priceana

Viola rosacea

Viola septentrionalis

Viola septentrionalis var. septentrionalis

Viola X subaffinis


Common Names


bayou violet

blue prairie violet

butterfly violet

dooryard violet

downy blue violet

hairy wood violet

hooded blue violet

meadow violet

sister violet


wood violet

woolly blue violet













Bearing one or more tufts of hairs.



Automatically self-pollinating. Refers to bud-like flowers that do not open but automatically self-pollinate, or to plants with such flowers.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster.



A small, leaf-like appendage at the base of a leaf stalk or flower stalk.



An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.

Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.



At the time I took this photo, I didn't realize there are several types of blue colored violets. I assume it is common blue violet.

  common blue violet  

Bill Reynolds

    common blue violet      


    common blue violet      


    common blue violet   common blue violet  
    common blue violet   common blue violet  
    common blue violet      


    common blue violet   common blue violet  


    common blue violet      
















  Viola sororia COMMON BLUE VIOLET
Frank Mayfield
  Viola sororia COMMON BLUE VIOLET  
  Wood Violet
Joshua Mayer
  Wood Violet  



Visitor Videos

Share your video of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  MyNature Apps; Identifying Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia

Uploaded on May 14, 2011

Identifying Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.

Location: Cass County

At the time I took this photo, I didn't realize there are several types of blue colored violets. I assume it is common blue violet.

common blue violet  
  Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington County

common blue violet  

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Bur Oak WMA

Cambria WMA

Canon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Des Moines River SNA

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Father Hennepin State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Foxhome Prairie

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Great River Bluffs State Park

Greenwater Lake SNA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Itasca State Park

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Keller Regional Park

Kilen Woods State Park

King’s and Queen’s Bluff SNA

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Langhei Prairie SNA

Lawrence Creek SNA

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Lundblad Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Chaska Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Monson Lake State Park

Moose Lake State Park

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Paul Bunyan Savanna

Phelps Lake WMA

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Creek Woods SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rockville County Park

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Sakatah Lake State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Savage Fen SNA

Schoolcraft State Park

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Tiedemann WMA

Townsend Woods SNA

Twin Lakes SNA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Woodland Trails Regional Park

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA





Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © All rights reserved.