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Introduction to Violets
 
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Violets are herbaceous (non-woody) plants, usually wild-growing, with colorful blooms. A few are cultivated, and can be purchased at nurseries. Violets are closely related to pansies. Most violets are perennials that grow from rhizomes, while two (in our area) are annuals that grow from taproots. The perennials are native to parts of North America; the annuals are not.

Violets usually spread from seeds, but also may propagate vegetatively from stolons (runners) or from branching rhizomes. Many species are also capable of producing viable seeds by means of self-pollination. The self-pollinating flowers do not open, and are not usually colorful. This capability is called cleistogamy.

Violets are fairly short plants, typically shorter than 16" (40 cm); in some cases barely reaching 4" (10 cm). They are good citizens, living in harmony with their neighbors; not dominating their community. They don't often form large colonies, or make a big splash. Most live in the shade of a forest, but seem to be more prolific with a tiny bit of sunlight (i.e., not too dark). Many species prefer continuous soil moisture that is moderately well-drained.

A few species produce stems. Their flowers arise on stalks (peduncles) from leaf axils along stems. For these species, the stems can bear more than one flower. However, a majority of species do not produce stems. For those that don't produce stems, flowers and leaves arise directly off of the rhizome. In this case, their growth habit is similar to that of ferns, in which fertile and sterile fronds arise from the rhizome.

Flower parts for violets come in 5's: five petals, five sepals, and five stamens.

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Images & text copyright  Arieh Tal, 1990 to 2023.  All rights reserved.