Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canada Violet - Viola canadensis   L.
Members of Viola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Violales » Family Violaceae
AuthorL.
DistributionThroughout the mountains; ranges east into a few western Piedmont ranges, such as the Sauratowns (Stokes).

This is a Northern and Western species, ranging from Canada south to northwestern SC and AL. The species occurs in most of the VA Piedmont, but there are oddly very few collections from well eastward in the NC Piedmont.
AbundanceFrequent to common in the mountains; scarce eastward into the western Piedmont.
HabitatThis species strongly favors rich hardwood forests, being a characteristic species of Rich Cove Forests. It is found in other moist to rich montane forests as well. RAB's (1968) habitats of "Rocky woods and open bluffs" is odd and not correct, or at least is misleading.
PhenologyBlooms from April to July, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of the most robust and tallest of our violets, often reaching 12-15" tall. It is one of only two caulescent (leafy along the flowering stalks), white- or cream-flowered violets in NC. It has both basal leaves and scattered stem leaves, each with heart-shaped blades and the basal with petioles up to 4" long. The scattered flowers are white with a yellow center and some purple lines in the throat and purplish tinge on the back of the petals; each is rather large and about 1" across. The only similar species is V. striata, which has cream-colored flowers, no yellow on the base of the petals, nor any purple on the back of the petals. Also, it has very large, leafy stipules at the base of each stem leaf. V. canadensis is a favorite spring wildflower of our cove forests, seen in many or most suitable rich coves, often in large stands that block the ground.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2018) notes several varieties for the species, with the nominate one -- var. canadensis -- being the only one found in NC. He states that the var. rugulosa, as mentioned in RAB (1968), is misapplied to plants in NC.

General note on Viola: In 2009-10 B.A. Sorrie (website map editor) went through the whole collection at NCU, annotating all specimens against those verified by experts in the genus. The range maps in RAB (1968) have been changed accordingly. More recently, H. Ballard and students are in the process of revising all Southeastern Viola, and they will recognize more species than are listed on this website, which follows Weakley (2018).
Other Common Name(s)Tall White Violet, Canadian White Violet
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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