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Viola palmata Linnaeus var. palmata . Section: Nosphinium. Subsection: Borealiamericanae. Southern Three-lobed Violet, Wood Violet. Phen: Chasmogamous flower Mar-Jun; chasmogamous fruit Apr-Jul; cleistogamous fruit May-Oct. Hab: Drier to dry sandy, sandy loam in dry oak and oak-pine woods and dry to dry-mesic savannas and closed forests, on slopes and bluffs. Dist: ME west to WI, south to FL, AL, MS, LA, and TX. Widespread at lower elevations of Piedmont and Coastal Plain in southeastern U.S, and Lower Midwest.

ID notes:Viola palmata (including all of its varieties) is most similar to the other heterophyllous violet with pubescent foliage in our region, V. stoneana. It differs from that species in its densely hirsute foliage, primary divisions of the pedately divided leaf blades (or biternately divided blades in V. palmata var. 1) not usually abruptly contracted into long slender ‘‘petiolules’’ (lobes of deeply pedately divided leaf blades in Lower Midwest populations with short slender ‘‘petiolules’’), hirsute peduncle, ciliate calyx, oblong-ovate to ovate obtuse to rounded sepals, densely spotted or blotched cleistogamous capsule on a prostrate peduncle, and light brown to brown seeds with small darker streaks or blotches.

Origin/Endemic status: Native

Taxonomy Comments: Nomenclature and typification have been problematic, but recent reexamination of the type of V. palmata unambiguously refers V. palmata sensu stricto to the common Piedmont and upper Coastal Plain with deeply dissected leaf blades; var. dilatata Elliott is rendered a synonym of var. palmata, and the widespread northern taxon previously treated as var. palmata must use the earliest available name var. triloba. Infrequent specimens identified as the latter from the main range of southeastern var. palmata are probable local hybrids involving Viola sororia. V. palmata in the broad sense is a polymorphic complex of potentially distinct evolutionary taxa diverging in foliage, flower and seed characters and requiring further study (“pseudo-stoneana”, “avipes”, “glabrate palmata” and “Red Hills”). While most variants are pedately dissected and occur at lower elevations, the rare and sporadic c. Appalachian “avipes” and “pseudo-stoneana” are distinctive in producing biternate leaf blades. Taxonomists have synonymized the Lower Midwest V. falcata under the present variety, but differences in leaf morphology, modal habitat and seeds suggest that the two may represent different evolutionary taxa. For reasons separating V. stoneana House, see that species.

Synonymy: = Ballard () (in prep), Ballard, Kartesz, & Nishino (2023); = Viola palmata L. – Ar, NcTx, NE, Pa, Tn, Va, Haines (2001), McKinney & Russell (2002); < Viola ×palmata L. (pro sp.) – K1; < Viola palmata L. – Fl2, S13, WH3; >< Viola palmata L. – F, G, S, Tat, W; < Viola palmata L. var. palmata – C, FNA6, Il; > Viola palmata L. var. palmata – K3, RAB, Tx, WV; ? Viola triloba Schwein. – S; > Viola triloba Schwein. var. triloba – F, G

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Great Plains: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Midwest: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Northcentral & Northeast: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)

Heliophily: 5

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image of plant© Sonnia Hill | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Bruce A. Sorrie | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Bruce A. Sorrie | Original Image ⭷


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