Marsh blue violet is a woodland violet with blue flowers that prefers moist places. The heart-shaped leaves grow from the base of the plant (no stem!) on long stalks. The beautiful blue flowers are held above the leaves on even longer stalks. The full height of the plant is between 5 and 10 inches.
In this species, the blue or violet color of the flower gets darker toward the center and only the lower petal is veined with dark purple lines. Look more closely and you will see that the two side (lateral) petals have a fuzzy, white “beard”.
This native plant was once used medicinally to treat headaches and other ailments (violets contain an aspirin-like compound). All of the violet species have edible flowers, so pick some violets today and add them to your salad for a colorful, spring garnish! Bloom time is April through June.
Illustration above: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 552.