Bird-Foot Violet

By William T. Hathaway

Bird-Foot Violet (Viola pedata)

Generally speaking, violets are expected to appear as springtime species. Since my articles are printed in a once-a-week publication, what is a dedicated botanist to do? I publish the article! In this case the beauty of the specimen should enjoy precedence over a mere seasonal expectation.

The Bird-foot Violet (Viola pedata) is so-named for the birdlike configuration of its leaf lobes. Occasionally the bird-foot violet displays a two-tone color phase: that is, the two velvet-purple upper petals are in contrast to the three pale lower petals.

This magnificent violet prefers somewhat sterile, dry soils along woodland edges and open areas. I recollect having visited about five bird-foot violet populations scattered throughout Pittsylvania County. Many wildflower fans consider this species as the nonpareil of our local violets.