Friday, May 7, 2010
Bog White Violet - Viola lanceolata
Bog white violet (Viola lanceolata) is a unique member of this genus and easy to distinguish from its close relatives. For one, it is quite small. The entire plant is almost never larger that 1 inch across and 1-2 inches tall. The leaves are very narrow and linear; looking somewhat like grass blades in amongst the surrounding vegetation. Lastly, the small white flowers are streaked with purple inside the lower lip.
Bog white violet is found statewide in appropriate habitats and in nearly every state of the U.S. except the drier central prairie states. As its common name implies, it occurs in very wet habitats, near the waterline in ponds, marshes and bogs. It is not adaptable to drier conditions and quickly disappears if the hydrology is not quite right.
For this reason, bog white violet is difficult in the home landscape. I have tried it several times in the wetland my wife and I created in our Pinellas County landscape, but it has always died out within months of planting each time. I would love to figure out exactly what I need to make it work, as I find this diminutive species quite interesting, but to date I have drawn only blanks.
Bog white violet is not commercially available from nurseries associated with AFNN - the Association of Florida Native Nurseries and its limited landscape use may make it remain that way. Look for it in the soggy edges of mostly open wetland systems - in the early spring when it is in bloom. You may be rewarded if you look close enough.