Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Smooth White Violet - Viola pallens   (Banks ex de Candolle) Brainerd
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Section 6 » Family Violaceae
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Author(Banks ex de Candolle) Brainerd
DistributionThroughout the mountains, and sparingly east to a few western Piedmont monadnock ranges, to Stokes and Alexander counties.

This is a Northern species, ranging across Canada and the Western states, but in the East south mainly to NJ, PA, and IA. Southward it occurs in the Appalachians to northern GA.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent in the mountains, and rare and local eastward into the western Piedmont.
HabitatThis species occurs in cool to cold water, of wooded seepages, stream margins, and other damp to wet, shaded places. It typically has its "feet" in water, and it often grows in or near sphagnum moss.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Broadleaf Herbaceous Mires
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of several montane, acaulescent (flowering stalks separate from the leaves), white-flowered violets in NC. This species is smaller in stature than the very similar V. blanda and V. incognita, with the flowering stalks seldom more than 2-3" high. The leaves have rounded blades, distinctly obtuse at the apex, and most are barely 1" across and long (often wider than long). It should be readily separated from the common V. blanda by its green petioles and flower stalks, as opposed to reddish in V. blanda, and it also has bearded lateral petals whereas V. blanda lacks hairs on the lateral petals. V. blanda usually grows in mesic to rich forests but not in water or seeps, and it averages larger in size and has a more acute to somewhat obtuse leaf tip. V. incognita is very rare (apparently), and it has the petioles and lower leaf surface quite pubescent, versus glabrous in V. pallens. On mountain walks in spring, this species is occasionally encountered, almost always in seepages inside the forests, whereas V. blanda will be seen much more often, away from water.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species is usually included in V. macloskeyi, as V. macloskeyi var. pallens or ssp. pallens. However, Weakley (2018) states that "There seems to be no rational basis" for including it within V. macloskeyi, which is limited to several far Western states.

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)Small White Violet, Northern White Violet, Macloskey's Violet
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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