Great-spurred Violet

Viola rostrata

See those little serrated stipules in the leaf axils?
See those little serrated stipules in the leaf axils?

In general, I think violets are hard to identify with real certainty, but thankfully this one has a few distinctive characteristics, starting with an extremely long “spur” on the back of the flower. There are also “toothed stipules”, or very small serrated leaflets in the space where the leaf meets the stem (see photo). And while some violets have “bearded” petals (a soft fuzz at the center of the flower), this one has 5 beardless  petals.

Long-spurred violet: check out those spurs!
Long-spurred violet: check out those spurs!

So, I think we might be on to something!  I suspect this is “Long-spurred violet”, which is technically a “stemmed violet”. That means the flowers and leaves occur on the same stem.  (In some other species with spurs, the flowers are on separate stalks from the leaves.) The leaves of this one are heart-shaped and have long stalks. The flowers are a pretty pale blue to lavender and their lower petals have dark lines.

So be on the lookout for  Long-spurred Violet growing locally in moist woods. It is blooming right now and will continue to bloom from April to June.

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