Early Blue Violet
Viola adunca, band pot
Habit: Viola adunca is a perennial flower with short to long slender rhizomes which develop into aerial shoots as the plant grows into the season. It has short leafstalks and oval to elliptic leaves, often with a heart-shaped base. The blades are very small, about one-inch long, bear finely toothed edges, and may or may not be covered in fine hairs. Its pretty flowers measure about half an inch long and have 5 delicate blue to deep purple petals. The 3 lower petals are often white and veiny at the base, and become purplish towards the margins, sometimes in a gradient fashion. The base of the lateral petals have patches of white hairs. The flowers of this species start to bloom in the middle of the spring and may persist until late summer.
Ecology: grows in moist to dry meadows, open woods, grasslands and disturbed habitats at low to high elevations. Its native range covers most of western North America, from Alaska to California, and extends east through Quebec and higher latitudes of the United States.
Growing conditions: grows in sunny conditions as well as part shade and dappled light. It enjoys moist soils but can tolerate drier medium as well. This charming plant is perfect for gardens on either side of the Cascades, and looks best along rock pathways or perennial borders.
The leaves and flowers of all violets are edible, and have been often used to make teas or salads, among other recipes of different regional cuisines. Parts of this plant have also been made into herbal medicines to function as a relief for coughs and lung congestion or as a laxative for children.
Photo Credit: Walter Siegmund