Exploring my little piece of the planet

Early Blue Violet

Viola adunca
Other common names: Hookedspur Violet, Early Blue Violet, Sand Violet, and Western Dog Violet

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Viola adunca-0833

O wind, where have you been,
That you blow so sweet?
Among the violets
Which blossom at your feet.

The honeysuckle waits
For Summer and for heat
But violets in the chilly Spring
Make the turf so sweet.

Cristina (Georgina) Rossetti

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Symbolizing the love of truth, or the truth of love, blue violets feature in many legends. They sprang from the blood of Greek god Attis and from where Orpheus laid his enchanted lute. Zeus created them for Io (the Greek word for violet) after turning her into a cow. Venus beat her rivals until they turned into violets and yet violets came to symbolize modesty or humility for Christians. In Iroquois legend, the first blue violets sprang from where the bodies of two lovers had fallen after being murdered by her people. (source)

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Although I realize V. adunca may not have been the exact species to inspire the mythology and literary arts of the past, it’s easy to imagine how any of its sisters may have. I have, so far, only found them on one east-facing slope above a narrow forest ravine. And what a find! What joy to come upon these sparkles of blue among litter of the previous summer’s decaying cast-offs.

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With wings lightly bearded at the pale, darkly penciled throat, the soft violet flower stands above juicy green leaves like a diminutive queen above her ladies laden with sustenance. There are at least 15 species of violets in Alberta, all beloved for their charming flowers in various shades of blue, yellow and white. What flower lover doesn’t recognize the five petaled princess: two petals in pairs at either side, a usually striped or penciled lower lip and a spur.

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Not quite as widespread as V. renifolia, this North American species is still listed as secure. (link) It is a larval and/or nectar host for several butterflies (link).

The species name adunca refers to the Early Blue Violet’s hooked spur, which I haven’t (yet) succeeded in photographing.

More about violets in general can be found on the Kidney-Leaved Violet page.

Selected Resources:

My flora books specifically linked in the text
Northwestern Mountain Wildflowers
NatureServe
Montana Plant Life
University of Texas Native Plant Database

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4 responses

  1. Pingback: Kidney-Leaved Violet | The Nature of the Hills

  2. I have these in my garden (I think). Early bloomers and I love their long flower stems. I put them in a teeny vase I have.

    January 16, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    • Are they these or Johnny-Jump-Ups, which are are European transplant? They are the progenitor of the pansy and spring up from pansy seeds especially after a a couple of years of self-seeding. I too love them in a little vase but wouldn’t pick the above plant as it’s not quite prolific.

      January 18, 2014 at 7:24 am

  3. Cindy, I loved reading about the mythology surrounding this flower. Wild violets can still be found in cooler areas of the lawn. I mow around them until their season is over.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:07 am

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