prairie violet

(Viola pedatifida var. pedatifida)

Conservation Status
prairie violet
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Prairie violet is a 3 to 6 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from a short, slanted or erect caudex and fibrous roots.

There is no central stem. The leaves are all basal and form a rosette. They are on stalks up to 1 long. The leaf blades are 1 to 3 long and 1 to 4 wide. They are dissected almost to the base into usually 3 main divisions. Each division us again deeply cut into 2 to 4 linear segments. The segments are often again lobed. Early leaves and later leaves are equally divided. The upper and lower surfaces may be moderately covered with spreading hairs or almost hairless. The margins are untoothed and have a fringe of hairs.

One to several leafless flower stalks (scapes) rise from the rootstock at the middle of the rosette. The scape is erect, leafless, and hairless, and is topped with a single flower. It is abruptly curved downward near the top. The flowers are usually held above the early leaves but are often overtopped by later leaves.

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

Cross-pollinated flowers are ¾ to 13 16 wide and showy. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are green and shorter than the petals. The petals are violet or pale violet and ¼ to ¾ long. The two upper petals are erect or bent backward. The three lower lobes are spreading, white at the base, and have a tuft of white hairs (beard) near the throat. The lowest lobe 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 occur on shorter scapes that may be erect or lie flat on the ground.

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




3 to 6


Flower Color


Violet to pale violet


Similar Species


Birdfoot violet (Viola pedata) flowers are somewhat larger, up to 1½ wide. The lower 3 petals are not bearded. The stamens protrude conspicuously from the throat of the corolla. It does not produce cleistogamous flowers. It is found in southeast and east-central Minnesota.


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, forest and woodland openings. Full sun.




April to June


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



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









  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)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  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






Viola palmata var. pedatifida

Viola pedatifida ssp. pedatifida


Common Names


bearded birdfoot violet

larkspur violet

prairie birdfoot violet

prairie violet













Bearing one or more tufts of hairs.



A short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.



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



A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



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

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    prairie violet   prairie violet  
    prairie violet   prairie violet  
    prairie violet      


    prairie violet   prairie violet  
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    prairie violet   prairie violet  
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  Viola pedatifida PRAIRIE VIOLET
Frank Mayfield
  Viola pedatifida PRAIRIE VIOLET  



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