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Maine Wildflowers: Blue Violets

Blue Violets
Blue Violets
by beautifulcataya / Flickr

Blue violets (Viola triloba) are similar to the purple violet (Viola palmata) but are smaller and lack the deep purple coloring of purple violets. There is some controversy over whether they are a distinct species or if they are simply a variation of ‘palmata’. According to Wildflowers of the United States, a database of wildflowers, it may be listed as ‘Viola triloba var dilatata’ or ‘Viola palmata var triloba’ depending on the source.

The USDA lists over 125 varieties of wild violets across the United States, with several blue varieties, including the blue marsh violet (Viola cucullata) and the rare New England violet (Viola novae-angliae L.), located in Maine. There may also be several hybrid blue violets.

Whatever you call them; tiny blue violets are common flowers found in woodland areas and are found encroaching on lawns where they bloom in early spring. These blue violets are also referred to as wood violets or house violets.

Like other wild violets, blue violets prefer shade to partial shade and moist soil. Try adding blue violets to a shady nook in your garden and watch them multiple over the years. Their heart-shaped leaves remain green throughout the summer, even after blooming has ceased, making blue violets an excellent ground cover in woodland or wildflower gardens.