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Viola pectinata E.P. Bicknell. Section: Nosphinium. Subsection: Borealiamericanae. Pectinate Violet. Phen: Chasmogamous flower Apr-Jun; chasmogamous fruit May-Jul; cleistogamous fruit Jul-Sep. Hab: Moist sandy or peaty soils, sphagnous ground and seeps of coastal (sometimes brackish) marshes and riverbanks, and fields, meadows, trail edges, and forest clearings in formerly natural habitats. Dist: Atlantic coast, MA south to NC.

ID notes:This species is unique among the Borealiamericanae in its undivided leaf blades with prominently pectinate margins, and it is similar to other species with strictly or nearly glabrous foliage and leaf blades longer than broad in chasmogamous flower that broaden substantially in fruit. In chasmogamous flower, besides the leaf blade features this species can be distinguished from V. affinis by its prominent quadrate auricles; from V. cucullata by its lack of a conspicuously contrasting dark purple eyespot around the throat, long filiform to narrowly linear hairs in the lateral petal beards, and densely bearded spurred petal; from V. langloisii by its strongly ascending to erect leaves, and densely bearded spurred petal; from V. missouriensis by its linear-lanceolate to lanceolate acuminate eciliate sepals, and densely bearded spurred petal; and from V. pratincola and V. retusa by its occasionally sparsely appressed-hirtellous leaf laminas. In cleistogamous fruit, its distinctive leaves and unspotted light to medium-dark brown seeds separate it from V. communis, V. cucullata, V. langloisii, V. pratincola, and V. retusa; and additionally its unspotted cleistogamous capsule on an erect peduncle set it apart from V. sororia (glabrous variant) and V. sororia (hirsutuloides variant).

Origin/Endemic status: Native

Taxonomy Comments: While some subsume this into V. brittoniana without taxonomic recognition and others recognize it as a forma under V. brittoniana at best, it differs in leaf features from V. brittoniana besides the lack of lobes on the leaf blade. While northern populations are invariably adjacent to or intermingled with var. brittoniana, southern populations commonly grow separate from the latter in somewhat different microsites, and also produce larger seeds. Conservative treatment for biodiversity’s sake urges maintenance of species rank until further studies clarify its evolutionary and taxonomic status.

Synonymy: = K4, Ballard, Kartesz, & Nishino (2023); = n/a – Tat; = Viola brittoniana var. pectinata (E.P.Bicknell) Alexander – RAB; < Viola brittoniana Pollard – FNA6

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: FAC (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Northcentral & Northeast: FAC (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)

Heliophily: 8

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image of plant© John Baur, some rights reserved (CC BY), uploaded by John Baur source CC-BY | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© John Baur, some rights reserved (CC BY), uploaded by John Baur source CC-BY | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© John Baur, some rights reserved (CC BY), uploaded by John Baur source CC-BY | Original Image ⭷

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