Macloskey’s Violet

A native perennial, Macloskey’s violet (Viola macloskeyi) was named after George Macloskey (Macloskie), an Irish naturalist, author and educator who lived from 1834 to 1920.

This small, white violet has many colloquial names including small white violet, northern white violet and smooth white violet in addition to Macloskey’s violet. Its scientific designation synonyms are also many among which are V. pallens, and V. palustris sp brevipes,

A middle elevation wildflower, Macloskey’s violet is found throughout most of North America except Alaska, Arizona and a few states in the Central South. It grows in wet forests and bogs.

Short thick rhizomes and stolons (prostrate stems) give rise to basal leaves which are round, kidney or heart shaped. The leaves are not hairy, have shallow teeth and the tips are rounded or blunt.

The flowers are single at the end of leafless stems that usually rise above the leaves. The top two petals are erect and angle outward. The lateral petals are not bearded but do have a few hairs at their bases. The lower petal projects forward and forms a short spur at the rear. Dark purple lines occur at the base of the lower petal.

The fruit of Macloskey’s violets are green, oval capsules that split into three sections and contain numerous brown to black seeds. The first white blossoms often do not produce seeds. Later in the season greenish flowers underground or at the soil surface self-fertilize and produce seeds.

Like all violets, Macloskey’s violet leaves and flowers are edible.

In August these Macloskey’s violets were growing in the Lower Kings Creek Meadow at Lassen Volcanic National Park (Shasta County CA).

 

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