Ontario Wildflowers website

Identifying Violets

Here are some pointers to aid in identifying Violets.

Key points to observe when identifying Violets:

  • stemmed vs. stemless
  • flower colour
  • leaf shape
  • does the flower have any scent
  • flower size
  • flowers above, at, or below the level of the leaves
  • hairs inside flower: what petals they are on, quantity, and are they clavate (club-tipped)
  • habitat: wet or dry, woods or open area, in water
  • size of flower spur
  • auricles ciliate or not
  • auricles extend back or not
Stemless Violets
  • LeConte's Violet (Viola affinis)
    • flowers normal size
    • leaves narrowly heart-shaped with tapering tips, most are longer than broad
    • deciduous woodlands, NOT open fields, NOT bogs
    • flowers at about same level as leaves
    • sepal auricles poorly developed
    • lateral petals bearded; lower petal sparsely bearded
  • Marsh Blue Violet (Viola cucullata)
    • flowers normal size
    • clavate (club-tipped) hairs
    • lateral petals bearded
    • flower light blue
    • flowers darker toward center (but throat is white): outer part is pale violet, then darker toward center, then white throat.
    • flowers: white form sometimes found
    • lower petal veined and shorter
    • flowers on very long stalks; flowers above leaves
    • wet woods, marshes: variety of habitats, but all wet
    • sepal auricles well developed, very prominent
    • sepals frequently ciliate
  • Northern Bog Violet (Viola nephrophylla)
    • wet areas, in water, bogs
    • flowers normal size
    • flowers well above leaves, or at top of leaves
    • lateral petals bearded
    • lower petal bearded
    • lower petal longer
    • flower dark blue, white throat
    • lateral petals directed forward at an angle
    • sepals not ciliate
    • leaves just unfurling at flowering time
  • Sweet White Violet (Viola blanda)
    • tiny white flowers
  • Northern White Violet (Viola macloskeyi)
    • tiny white flowers - the smallest of all
    • flowers fragrant
    • damp but not wet areas
  • Kidney-leaved Violet (Viola renifolia)
    • small white flowers
    • leaves: most are kidney-shaped
Stemmed Violets