Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Disguised White Violet - Viola incognita   Brainerd
Members of Violaceae:
Members of Viola with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Family Violaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
DistributionVery poorly known, owing to great similarly to and confusion with V. blanda, though believed to occur only in the Mountains. Though the SERNEC database lists collections from 8 counties, one of the website editors (Sorrie) has examined specimens and considers only those from Yancey and Swain as correct, at the present time.

This is a Northern species, ranging from eastern Canada south to DE, PA, and WI, and south in the Appalachians only to western NC.
AbundanceVery rare to rare, but not well known. However, certainly much more scarce than is the numerous V. blanda. The NCNHP database does not contain this species, nor does NatureServe. As Weakley (2018) does, the website editors have given a tentative State Rank of S1?, and suggest that it should be listed as Significantly Rare.
Habitat"Moist to wet forests" (Weakley 2018); "Low moist woods and mountain-sides" (Gleason 1952). The specimens accepted as correct by Sorrie are from spruce-fir forests or at least from very high elevations.
PhenologyBlooms from April to June, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is an acaulescent (flower stalk without leaves) white-flowered violet, very similar in appearance to V. blanda, and somewhat like V. pallens. Separate this rare-in-NC species form V. blanda by: 1) bearded lateral petals, versus not bearded; 2) petioles and flower stalks green, as opposed to reddish tinged; and 3) the 2 upper petals rather broad versus somewhat narrow. V. pallens is similar but is a smaller species, limited essentially to wooded seepages and other damp forested spots. That species has the leaf stalks and lower leaf surfaces glabrous, as opposed to pubescent petioles and lower leaf surfaces in V. incognita. Though the latter two species tend to have rounded leaf tips, V. blanda can show somewhat obtuse tips, though its leaves are not quite as rounded. As a reminder, this seems to be a very rare species in western NC, and thus nearly all acaulescent white violets will be V. blanda or the infrequent V. pallens.
Taxonomic CommentsMany references do not recognize this species at all as valid, such as NatureServe. In general, it is often subsumed within V. blanda. Some list it as V. blanda var. palustriformis. Interestingly, Fernald (1950) and Gleason (1952) did recognize this as a good species, as do a few recent references.

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)Largeleaf White Violet
State Rank[S1?]
Global RankGNR
State Status[SR-P]
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieMount Greylock, MA, ravine, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
Select a source
Select an occurrence type