Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lanceleaf Violet - Viola lanceolata   L.
Members of Violaceae:
Members of Viola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Violales » Family Violaceae
DistributionNearly throughout the Coastal Plain, though scarce or absent in most northern counties. A disjunct record, probably now historical, from the southern Mountains (Henderson County).

Despite a Coastal Plain range in NC, this is a widespread Eastern species, ranging across eastern Canada to southern FL and eastern TX. It is scarce to absent, however, in much of the interior regions, including the Piedmont and Appalachians.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common in the southern half of the Coastal Plain, but much less numerous in the northern half, and rare in most of the northern counties. Likely absent now in the Mountains.
HabitatThis is a species of mostly sandy, acidic wetlands, such as wet pine savannas, streamhead seepages, swamp margins and openings, depression ponds and pools, and interdune ponds. The habitats are similar to those of the widespread V. primulifolia, though that species is more frequently found in richer-soil wetlands and muddy places, as well as in acidic ones. The very similar V. vittata grows essentially in small enclosed pools and wetlands, such as depression pools and ponds and clay-based Carolina bays.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of the few white-flowered species with acaulescent stems, with all leaves being basal. The naked flowering stalk only reaches about 4-6 inches tall, with a small white flower topping each stalk. The leaf blades are narrow, being lanceolate and about 2 inches long but only about 1/4-inch wide at most. In this species, the leaf blade is 3-6 times longer than wide, as opposed to about 1.5-2 times longer than wide in V. primulifolia, but 8-15 times longer than wide in V. vittata. In addition, the leaf base is narrowly cuneate, strongly tapering to the petiole; V. primulifolia has a truncate or widely rounded leaf base. Though the leaves of V. primulifolia can be held in a spreading or upright manner, those of V. lanceolata are usually quite erect. The species is not overly hard to find in pine-dominated wetlands, and can be locally numerous; however, you should stumble into V. primulifolia more often and in more situations/habitats.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2020) has split out V. vittata from this species; most references include that taxon as a variety or subsumed completely within V. lanceolata.

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)Bog White Violet
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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