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Although one of the tallest plants by violet standards, it is actually a rather small and compact woodland perennial by most others, growing up to 9-12 inches (23-30 cm) tall, with flowers all along the stem. Yellow violets have many similarities to the rest of the violet family. The leaves are almost heart-shaped notched at the base, with rounded teeth along their margins and delicate irregular five petaled flowers. The yellow violet boasts yellow flowers, with brown or purple lines in the centre. The flowers are carried in leaf axils and are sometimes slightly hairy or downy. The flowering time continues between May and October. It is a remarkably long flowering period for our climate.
Prefers cool, moist woods with good shelter from the wind and dappled light.
The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule that when mature, shoots seeds several feet from the parent plant. Collect the capsules when full and plump, and store in a paper bag in a warm, dry place. Once the capsules have opened, the seeds are easy to collect and plant. Though one of our rarest native plants, yellow violet is incredibly easy to grow. Plant the seeds as soon as possible every inch (2.5 cm) in rows 4 inches (10 cm) apart, at a depth of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Most seed will germinate in the spring.
Flowers are visited primarily by bees, but also by flies and butterflies. Seeds are eaten by a variety of birds and mammals.
Areas of Usage:
Although a woodland flower, yellow violet is a very handsome addition to any bed of wildflowers around a cottage or yard. It can even be planted in a relatively sunny spot as long as there is shelter from the wind and proper mulching each year. It does best in the woods and simply pops with greens and yellows from spring well into fall along a hiking trail.
The violet family has a special relationship with ants. Violet seeds boast elaiosomes, appendages which are delicious to slugs and ants. These creatures transport the seeds, eat the elaiosome and leave the seed to germinate away from its parent plant. There is even a name for seed dispersal by ants: myrmecochory.
Another plant family, the trilliums, employ this ant-based tactic. Trilliums and violets are hardly close family and so may have developed their use of an elaiosome separately, an example of convergent evolution.