Northern Ontario Plant Database
Viola cucullata Aiton
En: marsh blue violet, meadow violet, long-stemmed marsh violet
Violaceae (Violet Family)
General: A low, perennialforb, stemless, with flowers and a crown of basal leaves originating from a horizontal to oblique rhizome, which often splits at the top to form several crowns. Forms of Viola cucullata with white flowers have been named forma albiflora House, while plants with blue and white mottled petals have been named forma thurstonii (Twining) House. Plants that key to Viola cucullata, but have somewhat pubescent leaves and ciliate sepals, may be possible hybrids with Viola sororia, the woolly blue violet.
Leaves: Basal, simple, palmately-veined, long-petioled. Leaf blades ovate to cordate, continuing to expand after the flowers have set seed, reaching 10 cm in width at maturity. Leaves smooth (glabrous); basal lobes cordate; apices pointed (acute) to somewhat sharply pointed (acuminate); margins with rounded teeth (crenate).
Flowers: Bisexual; petaliferous flowers, not fragrant; solitary on a slender, glabrous flower stalk (peduncle) usually much taller than the leaves. Sepals 5, lanceolate, with sharply pointed (acuminate) apices; margins entire, not ciliate (eciliate); auricles conspicuous, 2–6+ mm long. Northern plants will have auricles measuring in the shorter end of that range; those with shorter (2 mm long) auricles have been describes as var. microtitis Brainerd. Petals 5, purple or bluish-purple and usually darkly veined toward the often white centre of the flower; only the 2 lateral petals are bearded and the hairs have swollen (clavate) tips; the lower and upper 2 petals are beardless; the lower petal is also shorter than the lateral petals and bears a short, saccate spur. Cleistogamous flowers are produced on slender, erect, green peduncles and have auricles nearly as long as the narrow sepals. Petaliferous flowers bloom in May.
Fruit: A cylindrical-ovoid, green, 3-valved capsule, glabrous, 10–15 mm long. Seeds are blackish at maturity. Fruits mature in summer.
Habitat and Range: Low, wet areas in coniferous or mixedwood forests, marshes, swamps, bogs, usually rooting in muck soils. Viola cucullata is an eastern North American species that ranges from Quebec to Ontario; its range extends to the north shores of Lake Superior (Scoggan 1978).
Internet Images: The Viola cucullata webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.
The Viola cucullata webpage from the Northeast Wetland Flora , hosted by the Northern Prairie Wildflife Research Centre.
Similar Species: There are several blue- or purple-flowered violets in northern Ontario. Viola nephrophylla (northern bog violet) has glabrous leaves and a deep purple corolla, but lacks the darker veining toward the centre of the flower found in V. cucullata; the lateral, lower petals, and sometimes upper petals of V. nephrophylla are bearded, but with slender, straight hairs. Viola affinis (LeConte's violet) also has glabrous leaves and bearded lateral and lower petals with striaght hairs, like V. neprophylla, but V. affinis has narrower, more triangular-cordate leaves. Viola selkirkii (Selkirk's violet) has paler, beardless flowers, leaves with hairs on the upper surface, the basal lobes that touch or overlap. Viola sororia (woolly blue violet) can be recognized easily by its hairy leaves and stems, and ciliate sepals.
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