Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Coastal Violet - Viola septemloba   Le Conte
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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AuthorLe Conte
DistributionPresent only in the southern Coastal Plain, east of the Sandhills region. Ranges north only to Robeson, Bladen, and Duplin counties. Specimens collected elsewhere are believed to be misidentifications.

This is a Southern species, ranging north only to southeastern NC, and south to southern FL and west to LA.
AbundanceUncommon to locally infrequent from Pender County southwest to Columbus County, but rare to the north and northwest. For some reason, the NCNHP has not given a State Rank for the species. The website editors suggest S2S3, and probably not quite scarce enough for the Watch List.
HabitatThis is primarily a pine savanna species in NC; it may occur in wet pine flatwoods, but this is the primary blue-violet flowered member of the genus found in pine savannas in NC. The habitat listed in Weakley (2018) -- "Sandy pinelands" -- probably applies to the species farther south, but this is not the habitat in NC.
PhenologyBlooms from late March to early May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of the more striking of our violets, with perhaps the largest flowers of all, easily noted where present in a pine savanna when in bloom, as few other species are in bloom that early in spring in this habitat. It is an acaulescent species, with the flowering stalks growing to about 6 inches tall, topped by a large flower that is about 1.5 inches tall and across. The leaves, all basal, are somewhat variable, though early ones are simply cordate and undivided. Most leaves are divided into three lobes, with the middle one wide, and lateral lobes often somewhat divided into smaller segments so as to appear to have 5 or 7 lobes (but with the middle one usually prominent and much wider than the others). The most similar species is V. palmata, but that is a forest species of mesic, usually hardwood, habitats; that species has the blades and petioles moderate to densely pubescent, as opposed to mostly glabrous in V. septemloba. Also, the lowermost lobe on the blade in V. palmata is "directed outward parallel to ground" (Weakley 2018), as opposed to "usually directed downward toward ground" in V. septemloba. The poorly known V. subsinuata, of Piedmont and mountain forests, has all leaves divided, with no ovate or cordate (undivided) ones.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

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[S2S3]
Global RankG3G5
State Status
US Status
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USACE-empFACW link
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B.A. SorrieWakulla Springs, FL, 1970s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC

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