Viola pedata (Birdfoot Violet)

birdfoot violetViola pedata is commonly called Birdfoot violet because the daintily divided leaves are deeply cleft into three to five parts that resemble a bird’s foot. Standing from 3-6 inches tall, this violet has few if any pubescence (hairs).

Viola pedata blooms from mid to late spring as well as occasionally in the fall.  There are two color forms that are common.  One has five lilac petals and the other has three lower lilac petals but the upper two are deep purple.

In nature, Viola pedata can be found in dry rocky or sandy forests, woodlands, barrens, aaarepp5may14fedittedclearings, and road banks.  It is commonly found in the Mountains, Piedmont, and inner Coastal Plain and rarely in the outer Coastal Plain. Viola pedata prefers full sun and dry conditions. It will tolerate damper conditions in part sun if it is planted in well-drained soil.  The soil should be sandy or rocky to reduce competition from other plants; a somewhat acid pH is preferred. The greatest danger is crown rot from poorly drained, heavy soil.

Viola pedata seeds are ejected away from the mother plant.  Each copper colored seed has a sugary gel surrounding it that attracts ants.  The ants carry the seeds away aiding in dispersal.  Viola pedata flowers are pollinated by several bees, skippers and small butterflies.  This species in host to some species of fritillary butterflies.

Birdfoot Violets growing along side a road with Pussytoes


These photos were taken by Repp Glaettli in early

May 2014 by the side of a road.  Along with the

Viola pedata, there were pussytoes growing.