Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Salad Violet - Viola edulis   Spach
Members of Violaceae:
Members of Viola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Violaceae
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DistributionScattered over much of the Coastal Plain, though most prevalent in the southern portion, especially in the Sandhills region. Ranges into the edge of the Piedmont. Exact details of the range are not well known owing to confusion about specimen identities, and biologists' unfamiliarity with it, as most specimens were collected when it was named as V. palmata. Other specimens from the Piedmont are not correct, as determined by one of the website editors (Sorrie).

This is a Southeastern species, ranging essentially in the Coastal Plains from MD to northern FL, and west to eastern TX.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent (probably) in the Sandhills and other southern Coastal Plain counties. Seemingly rare in the northern and central portions of the Coastal Plain, but more data are needed to assess the abundance in NC. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S3?
HabitatThis is a wetland species, primarily found in blackwater wetlands. It occurs along small blackwater streams and associated floodplains, such as openings in bottomlands and swamps.
PhenologyBlooms from late March into May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis species was included with V. palmata var. triloba in RAB (1968), and essentially those records from Coastal Plain wetland habitats were/are really this species, named as V. esculenta in many current references. It is similar to several other acaulescent violets, as it has separate flowering stalks with violet-blue flowers, and basal leaves (only). In this species, the earliest leaves to emerge are ovate to heart-shaped, cordate at the base, and undivided; V. palmata var. triloba is similar. Both of these have divided leaves present during flowering, with the middle lobe rather wide and often elliptical to rhombic, and the side lobes (one or two on each side) much shorter and smaller. This species can be separated from V. palmata var. triloba by its glabrous to glabrate leaves, including on the petioles; the latter species has moderate to dense pubescence on the leaves, at least on the undersides and on the petioles. Also, this species is a wetland one, whereas V. palmata (both varieties) grows in upland forests. V. septemloba is somewhat similar, but that species grows in pine savannas in NC, and it has the spurred petal densely bearded on the inside, whereas V. edulis is not bearded. Also, V. septemloba usually has 5-9 lobes on the larger leaves, whereas V. edulis has 3 to occasionally 5 lobes on the larger leaves.
Taxonomic CommentsConfusing! Many references, such as NatureServe, conside this taxon as V. esculenta. As mentioned above, records from RAB (1968) had been included in V. palmata var. triloba. Some references suggest that this species was part of V. septemloba, but that would be incorrect.

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 additional species; this work has now been published (see above). We will follow updated editions of Weakley in recognizing them.
Other Common Name(s)None
State Rank[S3?]
Global Rank[G4G5]
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B.A. SorrieFort Bragg, backup pooch of Little River, W of Turkey Creek, Apr 2015. MoorePhoto_natural

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