July 8, 2020

Small is Small

Viola pallens - Northern white violetiolet

Viola pallens – Northern white violet | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

You know a plant is very small when a wildflower site states “Height: Very small.” Such is the case with Viola pallens, or Northern white violet. Actually, there are a slew of common names, some of which are used for other violets, too, which is no help at all. But the Ontario Wildflowers site states that a slight fragrance helps differentiate it from another small white violet, V. blanda. Northern white violet is native to North America, scattered from Canada to the southern U.S. and stretching from California to Maine. It prefers damp woods and edges of swamps and bogs, unlike V. blanda, which prefers drier territory.