Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Dog Violet - Viola labradorica   Schrank
Members of Violaceae:
Members of Viola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Violales » Family Violaceae
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DistributionWidely scattered in the Mountains and western Piedmont, ranging east to Rowan County.

This is a Northern species, ranging across much of southern Canada and south to NJ, PA, and northern IL, southward in the Appalachians and western Piedmont to northern GA and central AL.
AbundanceRare, and clearly declining in recent decades. Not as frequent as the range map might imply. This is a Watch List species and perhaps deserves to be tracked as Significantly Rare in upcoming years.
HabitatThis is a species of floodplain forests, damp but rich slope forests, and seepage slopes -- usually in high pH soil. Though not truly a wetland species, it is more associated with wetlands than is the similar V. rostrata.
PhenologyBlooms from late March to May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of the few caulescent violets with blue to blue-violet flowers in NC, with the great majority of such flowered species having no leaves along the flowering stalks. This species grows to 4-6 inches tall, with the stem and basal leaves being heart-shaped, with rounded tips, and only about 1.5 inches across and long. The flowers tend to be light blue, paler in color than most other blue-flowered species, and the lateral petals are bearded. This species has an elongated spur, about 1/5-inch long, distinctly longer than on all other violets except for that in V. rostrata, which has the spur about 1/2-inch long. In addition, this species has the lateral petals bearded, versus beardless in V. rostrata. Also, V. labradorica has uniformly blue flowers, whereas those of the other species are lavender (more purplish in color), with a dark throat. Sadly, this is a tough species to find in the state, usually best searched for in floodplain forests. Most bottomland forests in the state have been heavily impacted in recent decades by exotics such as Microstegium vimineum and Ligustrum sinense; most small, native, spring-flowering herbs have been impacted by these forest weeds.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species was generally known as V. conspersa, but has now been included within the very wide-ranging V. labradorica in recent years, which explains several of the common names (i.e., Alpine Violet and Labrador Violet).

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)Labrador Violet, Alpine Violet, Dog Violet
State RankS2? [S2]
Global RankG5
State StatusW7 [W1]
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken in mesic woods, Taunton, MA, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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