You will never have just one violet....
Common Name : Violet
Science-y Name : Viola papilionacea
A Few Other Varieties : V. blanda (there are many types of wild violets, but the V. blanda are the most likely to be growing in the grass in your yard in New England)
Native or Non : We’re going with native as wild violets, and their numerous varieties, are widely distributed in the northern hemisphere. They are naturally occurring from Canada to the Andes in South America.
Characteristics : Cute as all get out…. if you like small, ground flowering plants that may eventually take over your yard.
They thrive in moist soil and in areas that are a mix of shade and sun. Leaves of the violet plant are often heart shaped or oval shaped. The flowers have 5 petals, and the most common colors are blue or purple. Violets grow in colonies and spread easily when the soil and light conditions are right.
Plants that grow in a colony can spread through underground rhizome structures.
Rhizomes are defined as a continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots and roots at intervals where soil conditions are favorable to growth.
Violets also spread through explosive seed distribution. Seed pods form after a flower has been successfully pollinated (thanks bees!). Pods with ripe seeds split into three sections and look like little alien mouths. As the sections dry out they tighten around the seeds and when enough pressure is created the seeds pop right out of the section. If you’ve allowed violets to grow in your yard and get a chance to catch this seed dispersal in action it’s a lot of fun to see.
Fun Fact : Borehole samples of earth from the Nowy Sacz Basin in Poland contained a fossilized seed of Viola rimosa that scientists dated to the miocene epoch, right when many of the animal species we are familiar with today were coming into their own on earth.
Please note: we don’t encourage eating your lawn without proper education on foraging for wild edibles. If you’re looking to self educate, start with Backyard Foraging by Ellen Zachos. Watch some videos by forager Alexis Nikole (she’s everywhere, just Google her TikTok videos). Watch her appearance on the Drew Barry show on making violet syrup. But look into the different ways to use violets in cooking! Ancient civilizations did (Persians, Greeks, Romans), and you can too.
Care Considerations : Violets can spread quickly and, eventually, outperform other ground cover you have chosen for your yard. RAG Thyme gardeners will weed out unwanted violets or control a wanted colony through selective weeding. It’s important to get the roots and rhizomes underground so some minor digging with fingertips is necessary. In large colonies it may be necessary to work with a trowel to get as much of the root system as possible. Elimination of an unwanted colony can take multiple visits.
Even then violets may come back if there are other colonies in nearby properties and the seeds get spread around.
Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.