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Close-up of purple Early Blue Violet flower (Viola adunca). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Close-up of purple Early Blue Violet flower buds just opening up (Viola adunca). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Growth habit of early blue violet plant (Viola adunca). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Early blue violet plant (Viola adunca) in the habitat garden. Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Early Blue Violet

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Viola adunca

Early-blue violet, aka hooked-spur violet, is a diminutive groundcover capable of beautifying any corner of your garden. Each spring, its fragrant purple blooms won’t fail to delight - and can be a highly decorative addition to salads and baked goods. The foliage is composed of delicate heart-shaped leaves, often curled into cute little cups, and is a larval host plant to a number of endangered butterflies. 

  • Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial herbaceous plant
  • Size at maturity: 6" tall, 0 - 1’ wide
  • Light requirements: full sun to full shade
  • Moisture requirements: dry to moist soil
  • Bloom time: March - Aug
  • Growth rate/ease: fast growing, easy to grow
  • Wildlife support: flowers attract and provide nectar to adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; overall plant attracts and supports beneficial and other pest eating insects and is a caterpillar host plant/larval food source
  • Native habitat/range: common growing in meadows, forest edges and along damp streambanks, at all elevations in nearly every county of the Pacific Northwest. Portland Plant List - yes. 
  • Special features & uses: leaves have long been used medicinally for cough and lung congestion, in poultices to relieve pain (note - only leave on for a few hours as they can cause skin irritation), and as a laxative; flowers are edible and can be used in salads, cakes decorations and medicinal teas; landscape uses include pollinator gardens, woodland gardens, meadowscapes and as a groundcover; often a critical component of butterfly habitat restoration projects

Gardening with Early-blue Violet: This sweet, versatile little plant is exceptionally tolerant of whatever nature, or your garden conditions, can throw at it - such as salt spray, seasonal drought, fluctuating moisture levels, and disturbance. But, as with most plants, it will perform best in mature soils with high organic matter. It’s explosive seed pods will hurl seed an impressive distance for such a small stature. And, thanks to our friends the ants, new plants can even turn up in far-flung corners of your yard - or your neighbors - which is great news for the pollinators!

Photo Credit 1: "Hookedspur Violet - Viola adunca" by YellowstoneNPS is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Photo Credits 2-4: Nikkie West, Sparrowhawk Native Plants