South Dakota Native Plant Research
Violaceae : Viola canadensis

Violaceae : Viola canadensis


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Family Name


Common Name

Canada white violet, Canada violet

Native American Name

Lakota: waȟpé tȟó čík’ala


Viola canadensis var. rugulosa is a caulescent, colony-forming, perennial herb, spreading by stolons, with 1-several stems growing 20-40 cm in height. The leaves are simple, green to grayish green, heart-shaped, shallowly toothed and hairy, especially along veins on the underside. There are 3-5 basal leaves with long petioles, the blades up to 10 cm wide, usually not quite as long, the edges scalloped and with pointed tips. The alternate cauline leaves are similar but generally more ovate, with membranous stipules 8-15 mm long. The flowers arise singly on a peduncle from the axils of the upper leaves. The 5 green sepals are 4-6 mm long, often with a few short hairs. The corolla is irregular with 5 petals, white on the inside, with a yellow base, and purplish on the outside. The spurred lower petal and the 2 lateral petals have purple lines toward the base, and the lateral petals are bearded (have tufts of hairs), and the upper 2 petals are usually hairless. There are 5 stamens surrounding the pistil and the style is usually bearded. The fruit is a capsule 6-10 mm long. Canada white violet blooms from May through August in woodlands in eastern and northwestern South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Canada white violet is tall for a violet and blooms early in spring and continues to bloom for several months. The white and purple flowers are showy in the shaded areas where they grow best and attract many species of native bees and butterflies.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: The seeds are explosively ejected from the capsules at maturity. Browning capsules can be collected and allowed to dry in a paper bag or can be trapped by placing a screen bag over the capsules after they begin to develop.

Germination: Fall sowing is best. Seeds need a 90-day cold moist stratification before spring planting and should be stored in the refrigerator until treated.

Vegetative propagation: Rooted plantlets form at the ends of stolons and are easily transplanted.

Light: Light shade to medium shade.

Soil: Organically rich, well drained soils.

Water: Moist.

Violaceae : Viola canadensis