South Dakota Native Plant Research
Violaceae : Viola nephrophylla

Violaceae : Viola nephrophylla


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Download Leaves and flowers (304 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Northern bog violet

Native American Name

Lakota: waȟpé tȟó čík’ala


Viola nephrophylla is an acaulescent perennial herb growing from a branching caudex. The basal leaves have petioles 5-20 cm long with lanceolate stipules. The blades are simple, green, heart-shaped, smooth or occasionally having a few short hairs, the margins with shallow rounded teeth. The flowers develop on a peduncle that is as tall or taller than the leaves. The 5 green sepals are 5-7 mm long and usually hairless. The corolla is irregular, with 5 blue petals that are 10-20 mm long. The lower petal has a short spur, and it and the 2 lateral petals have a whitish base, are bearded (have tufts of hairs), and the upper 2 petals are usually hairless. Additionally, there are cleistogamous flowers (small flowers that don’t open) on erect to prostrate peduncles. The fruit is a smooth capsule 6-8 mm long. Northern bog violet blooms in May and June in moist prairies and along streams and lakes in all but the central region of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Northern bog violet blooms early in spring. The blue to purple flowers are relatively large and showy. They make a nice addition to a shaded a 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: Mature plants can be divided, but only with limited success.

Light: Light shade to medium shade.

Soil: Organically rich, well drained soils.

Water: Moist.

Violaceae : Viola nephrophylla