Synonyms: Viola nuttallii var. vallicola Other names: sagebrush violet Nomenclature: vallicola = living in a valley Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
General: perennial from short, erect rootstocks, the stems largely underground but the above-ground portions are sometimes as much as 15 cm long. Plant height, including the flower stalks, up to 15 cm tall.
Leaves: basal, the stalks 3-15 cm long, somewhat wing-edged. Leaf blades hairless to sparsely hairy, the blades ovate to ovate-lanceolate, usually more or less straight or almost cordate at the base, generally 2-5 cm long, entire or very shallowly blunt-toothed. Stipules joined much of their length, the free portion entire to few-toothed.
Flowers: one to few from the base, the stalks equaling or shorter than the leaves. Flowers 8-15 mm long, the spur short. The 5 petals yellow, the upper ones usually brownish on the back, the lower three lined with brownish-purple on the inside, the side pair bearded. Style head bearded, lobed to rounded. Ovary hairy to hairless.
Fruits: capsules, hairless, with 3 valves, splitting open explosively and shooting out seeds.
Mainly in sagebrush and on sagebrush-ponderosa pine benchland and wooded areas up to middle altitudes in the mountains, in most parts of MT. Also from B.C. to OR and in the Rocky Mts.
All violets are edible. The leaves and flowers can be eaten raw in salads, used as potherbs or thickeners, or made into tea. Violets are high in vitamins A and C. The flowers can be used as a garnish (fresh or candied) or as a flavoring and coloring in vinegar, jelly and syrup.
The rhizomes, fruits and seeds are poisonous, causing severe stomach and intestinal upset, as well as nervousness and respiratory and circulatory depression.
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