V. sororia or V. papilionacea or V. cucullata?

davila42(z6 MO)April 14, 2003

I was hiking in the Pere Marquette State Park outside Grafton Illinois (along Illinois R.) and saw a wonderful carpet of violets throughout regions of the park. The question is, which of the above is most likely. The leaves were scallop-edged, heart shaped and lightly haired on the underside.The flower stems also had detectable hairs, but weren't exactly furry. The flowers were borne above the leaves and had hairs on the lateral petals. Is there any reliable way to tell these apart without a magnifying lens to check whether the petal hairs are "short and thick" or "longer and thin?"

Note: the terrain on this terrain is forested and hilly, with lots of rock escarpments. Other flora included oaks/hickories, redbud and dogwood, some river birch in ravine bottoms. Smaller plants like fragile and Christmas fern, May apple, and spring beauty were also plentiful.



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Mike Hardman(Cyprus, 100m altitude)


Re Viola sororia/papilionacea: see link below.

Re V. sororia/cucullata: cucullata should stick to wetter sites whereas sororia can occur in wet or much drier spots. But that and issues of hairiness are all weak discriminators bewteen several species and infraspecific taxa, partly because they vary geographically, but hairiness also varies within a single plant during a season. Later in the year, features of the cleistogamous seed pods and sepals distinguish these species, but it is not so easy when they are in flower - or at least it is not so easy to describe. The one factor worth considering, though again it is a little imprecise, is how far above the leaves the flowers are held: V. cucullata holds them more or less at the same level as the top of the foliage, but V. sororia holds them above the foliage.

Thanks for your good description of the associated flora; in this case it does not exactly answer your question, but the forest aspect suggests V. sororia more than V. cucullata.

Must have been a great sight,

Here is a link that might be useful: Prior discussion on Viola sororia/papilionacea

    Bookmark   April 15, 2003 at 7:03PM
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