Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Field Pansy - Viola rafinesquei   Greene
Members of Violaceae:
Members of Viola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Violaceae
DistributionNearly statewide, but scarce near the coast, where it is absent to very rare.

This is a widespread Central and Eastern species, found from NY and SD south to northern FL and central TX.
AbundanceCommon to very common over the state, except rare to uncommon in the southern Coastal Plain and near the coast. Seems to have spread to the coast in recent decades with roadside mowing.
HabitatThis is the only native violet that occurs in ruderal habitats almost exclusively. It grows in fields, roadsides, vacant lots, and lawns, though it can grow in open woods and barrens.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits shortly after flowering. One of the sure signs of Spring.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar roadside plant, appearing to be an exotic species, though certainly a native one. This violet is erect and has leaves coming of the stem and branches (i.e., caulescent). The leaves are on long petioles and with a rounded to ovate blade, each blade only about 1/4-1/3-inch long and across. The numerous flowers are on long stalks and are light blue to medium blue, with a whitish center, barely 1/3-1/2-inch across. The species can grow in large patches on lawns and roadsides.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species was known for some decades as V. bicolor.

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)Wild Pansy, Field Pansy
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieSame data. MoorePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, roadside, late March 2010. MoorePhoto_natural
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