Missouri Violet, Native Wood Violet
Synonyms of Viola missouriensis (4) (Updated on 1-17-23 from Plants of the World Online): Viola candidula Nieuwl., Viola illinoensis Greene, Viola lucidifolia Newbro, Viola sororia var. missouriensis (Greene) L.E.McKinney
Viola missouriensis Greene is the accepted scientific name for this species of Viola. It was named and described as such by Edward Lee Greene in Pittonia in 1900.
The genus, Viola L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-17-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 663 species in the Viola genus. It is a member of the plant family Violaceae with 24 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The above distribution map for Viola missouriensis is from Plants of the World Online. The map on the USDA Plants Database doesn’t show as many states.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
There are a few small colonies of Viola missouriensis under a couple of Chinese Elms behind the chicken house. As with all Violets, they are a nice spring flower. I noticed the neighbor across the street has a good-sized colony next to his garage but I haven’t taken photos of them.
Viola missouriensis is a perennial wildflower that can be found throughout most of Missouri. As you can see by the map it has a broad range although its occurrence may be limited in some states. This species can be found in light shade, dappled sun, to partly sunny areas in forests, along streams, bottomlands, and other areas with favorable conditions (even in lawns). They prefer loamy soil with organic matter with ample moisture.
Leaves grow at the top of long petioles that emerge directly from an underground rhizome (acaulescent). The heart-shaped (cordate) leaves are approximately 3 1/2” long x 2 1/2” wide, longer than wide, and usually tapering to a pointed tip. The margins can be finely to coarsely toothed, or kind of scalloped. The apex of the petiole is curved downward making the flower face forward.
The solitary flowers grow from the apex of long peduncles that emerge directly from underground rhizomes. The flowers are approximately 1/2’3/4” wide and consist of 5 petals and five sepals. The two lower lateral petals are bearded and all three lower petals have dark veins. The base of all the petals, toward the throat, are a creamy color. The two upper petals have lighter veins. The base color of the petals is variable from white, smoky white, and light to medium violet. Sometimes petals can have a dark border. Flowers appear March through May.
Later in the season, self-fertile cleistogamous (closed) flowers are produced without petals. Although visited by various species of butterflies, flies, and wasps, they feed on nectar and pollen but don’t necessarily pollinate the flowers. That’s why they mainly rely on cleistogamous flowers to produce seed. I need to get photos of those flowers…
The above photos shows the curve in the apice of the peduncle.
I didn’t photograph any Viola missouriensis in 2022 because the area they grow was covered in chickweed… I believe they could be transplanted to areas where the chickweed wouldn’t be a problem.
In all, Viola missouriensis is a fairly variable species as far as leaf shape and flower color is concerned. They definitely add some different color to shady spring wildflower landscapes.
This species can be somewhat difficult to distinguish from the different color variations of Viola sororia. The main difference is their leaf shapes. Where the leaves of V. sorosia are as long as wide, the leaves of V. missouriensis are longer than they are wide.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
There isn’t that much online about this species… Some sites use the name Viola sororia var. missouriensis which is now considered a synonym of Viola missouriensis.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF MISSOURI (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂