Check the Leaves

When I was a young child there were three types of violets: purple, yellow and white. It was unimportant at that point in my life to identify the flowers in all those violet bouquets I brought home. I knew they were violets and I knew their color. Life was simple then.

Then I discovered genus and species names and life became more complicated. I have photographs of several purple/blue violets that will probably require expert assistance to identify. One of my books has over ten different species of yellow violets. Thankfully, there are fewer white violets.

Thus far I did posts on four different yellow violets. Unlike the purple and white violets, whose leaves (and flowers) often look very similar, many yellow violets have distinctive leaves. Of course there are differences in the flowers too, but those are generally more subtle.

Mountain violets (see 4/21/2017) have leaves with toothed margins and are purple tinted, especially on the underside. Canary violet (see 04-18-2014) leaves are egg shaped to broadly lance shaped, hairy and somewhat fleshy. A yellow violet with lighter green leaves which are divided into 3 to 9 broadly finger-like (resembling moose horns) lobes is probably a pine violet (see 04-28-2015). Shelton’s violets (see 04-11-2016) have dark green, fan-shaped pinnate leaves. Each leaf is divided into 3 definite leaflets that are further subdivided.

The mountain violet was growing along the Power Line Trail near Baum Lake, the Shelton’s along the Pacific Crest Trail above Baum Lake and the canary beside Crystal Lake, all in Shasta County CA. The pine violet was photographed along the Klamath River near the Iron Bridge (Siskiyou County CA).

Violets, regardless of the color, are one of the earliest blooming spring wildflowers, adding color to the drab landscape. Check the leaves of yellow violets. The leaves help distinguish the species. All yellow violets, contrary to what I once thought, are not the same.


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