South Dakota Native Plant Research
Violaceae : Viola pedatifida

Violaceae : Viola pedatifida


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Family Name


Common Name

Prairie violet

Native American Name

Lakota: waȟpé tȟó čík’ala


Viola pedatifida is an acaulescent perennial herb growing from an erect, ascending and sometimes branching caudex. The green basal leaves are up to 55 mm long by 87 mm wide, usually palmately 3-parted, with each part divided into linear lobes that are divided again, the margins with fine hair. The petioles are up to 15 cm long having narrowly lanceolate stipules. The flowers develop on a peduncle that is usually taller than the leaves. The 5 green sepals are 6-8 mm long and usually with small hairs. The corolla is irregular, with 5 violet to red violet petals that are 10-20 mm long. The lower petals are white at the base with dark violet veins, with a beard (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 yellow green capsule 8-12 mm long. Prairie violet blooms from April to June in prairies and open woodlands in all but the central region of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Prairie violet blooms early in spring. The violet flowers are attractive and the foliage is different from most other violets. They are not an aggressive species and make a nice addition to a native prairie or woodland planting. The flowers attract many species of native bees and butterflies and the foliage plays host to several species of butterfly larva.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: The seeds are explosively ejected from the capsules at maturity. 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 60-day cold moist stratification before spring planting and should be stored in the refrigerator until treated.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Organically rich, well drained soils.

Water: Medium dry.

Violaceae : Viola pedatifida