Solo White Bog Violets

Bog white violet with pine cone

I could blame it on the bluebonnets, although Indian paintbrush and white prickly poppies surely played a role.

Despite my commitment to document changes at the Big Thicket’s Solo tract on a monthly basis, I’m well behind in posting what I’ve found during my visits; all of those glorious spring wildflowers demanded to be shown first.

While I finish reports on my visits to the Solo tract in February, March, and April, I’ll offer these gems as appetizer: a pair of white bog violets (Viola lanceolata) that by mid-February had spread by the hundreds throughout the area.

Also known as lance-leaf violet because of their long, strap-like leaves, the flowers’ range is limited by their preference for a consistently wet location: coastal plains, bogs, swamps, wet meadows, and wetland pine savannahs like those of the Solo tract. In areas where land development has led to habitat loss, the violet often is listed as threatened.

Visited by a variety of pollinators, the diminuitive flower, from only two to six inches tall, is marked with purple lines that serve as nectar guides for insects, and pretty accents for appreciative human eyes.

Comments always are welcome.

61 thoughts on “Solo White Bog Violets

    1. I’ve never seen white violets generally, and I certainly never had seen this beauty. The maps show it as part of your world; I’ll bet you’ve seen plenty. The area where I found the greatest number was burned last year, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that prescribed fire opened things up for them.

    1. While I assume each flower has a relatively short life, I found them in March as well, and even a few in April. I’d never imagined violets blooming among sundews!

    1. Doesn’t it, though! Of all the things I expected to find in a pine savannah, violets never would have made the list. Of course, this is a very specialized violet; it certainly wouldn’t have made it into a central Iowa May basket!

    1. That’s so: especially since these white violets aren’t anomalies, like white bluebonnets. In their case, a violet-colored flower would be the anomaly. I wonder if things like that ever happen, or if it only goes one way, with pink, blue, and purple flowers sometimes showing up as white.

    1. In this case, it wasn’t particularly hard. These flowers are held higher on their stems than the violets I remember from my youth, and their slender leaves aren’t as concealing as those belonging to other species. Of course, that white bloom is an attention grabber. They are gems, that’s for sure.

    1. Isn’t that fun? The flowers clearly resemble those of other violets, but their pristine white certainly is pleasing, especially for a white flower lover like me!

    1. I’ve found them in other places in the Big Thicket, as well, and it makes sense that they’d show up in Appalachia. They don’t extend very far west in Texas; the southeast corner of the state is their home. They’re shown in Montgomery County, but I suspect you’d have to wander pretty far afield to find them. They’re among the prettiest flowers I’ve found, and they certainly were a surprise.

    1. Aren’t they sweet little flowers? They’re listed for every county in Maine except Piscataquis, so you might run across them one day. Apparently they don’t do well in cultivation — such a shame.

    1. Some have light lines on the side petals as well, but the combination of purple markings and that almost lime green center is rather dramatic for such a small flower!

  1. what a pretty little violet. while the woodland violets bloomed in other yards this year, none of mine did. the plants were there, just no flowers. last year they bloomed abundantly.

    1. Do you think they might be like the pecan or oak trees: one year a bumper crop, and then a year’s rest? I suppose other conditions could affect the bloom, too — just like tomatoes won’t set fruit if conditions don’t favor pollination. At least you still have your plants. It will be interesting to see what happens next year.

  2. I misread the title of this post and thought it said: Solo White Blog Violets. Curious title, I thought. Wonder where Linda’s going with this thought? Oops…

    1. That’s just funny. My brain does scramble from time to time, and that’s the sort of title that could pop up — although I’d hope I’d see it myself and get it whipped into shape before hitting ‘publish’!

  3. I see lots of wild purple/blue violets, but these white ones are a feast for the eye! I’m glad you found them and shared them here for us all to enjoy.

    1. Maybe they’re a consolation prize of sorts. I very rarely see a purple/blue violet. In fact, I can only remember finding a half dozen of them in past years. It’s nature’s way — everyone gets something, but not everyone gets the same thing!

  4. Thanks again for your lovely photos and post. I haven’t seen the white variety in many years, although the back yard of my former home here was lush with the violet-colored violets at the right time of the year and they delighted me.

    1. I can almost catch the scent. Where I grew up, violets were everywhere: especially around the ferns and lilies of the valley in front of our house. They were so popular that many women wore hats decorated with faux violets, or small bouquets of them pinned to suit jackets or dresses. Too bad those violets didn’t have that lovely scent!

    1. They do have a delicate appearance — but they have nice, strong stems. Not only that, several sites say they’re deer resistant; that’s always a plus.

    1. It doesn’t make it into central Texas; it barely gets out of southeast/east Texas. Its preference for acid soil made me wonder if it could be found around Bastrop’s Lost Pines, but it always wants continually moist soil — or even standing water — and that’s a no-go in that area.

  5. I’m seconding Debbie’s comments above, I see tons of bluish purple wood violets and even some white ones sometimes but none of them are as pretty as this. And what a nice shot with the pine cone backdrop.

    1. The Solo tract (and the Big Thicket generally) is just full of interesting contrasts. I never would have thought of pine cones and violets being found in the same place, but there they were — almost demanding a photo session. Of course, I never would have thought of sundews, pine trees, and blazing stars being found in the same plot of land — it’s a whole new world.

  6. Yes, but can you really call them “violets” if they aren’t violet? “White violet” strikes me as oxymoronic.

    1. In fact, our sense of ‘violet’ as a color developed from the flower, in the late 14th century. Our violet-violets belong to the Violaceae, or Violet family. It’s a big family, with about a thousand species. Here’s a small collection of photos that shows these sweet flowers can be yellow as well as white! Not only that, pansies are part of the Viola family — they’ve developed the trick of combining purple, yellow, and white in one flower.

    1. Even more interesting than the visible nectar guides are the invisible. Bees see a shifted spectrum compared to humans–we see red to violet, they see yellow through ultraviolet. Bees are able to see additional patterns because of their ability to detect UV. That said, the insects certainly would have no trouble seeing this flower’s ‘runway.’

  7. Your mention of nectar guides made me think of an airline runway & then I had an imaginary scene involving a bug coming in for a landing talking to air traffic control. Ha!

    1. That’s exactly the analogy that even big-time botanists use to describe the purpose of nectar guides: airport runways. Whoever’s serving as air traffic control, they’re probably responsible for waving off those extra bees who show up while another one is nectaring.

  8. What I’ve always loved about similar violets are the beautiful tattoos drawn all along that underside petal. I’ve never been one to get my own tattoos but I’ve seen some I thought were beautiful, and these violets fit that perfectly.

    1. That’s a connection I never would have drawn — very interesting. It’s amusing to think of nature as a tattoo artist. I wonder if there’s a bog violet out there somewhere with a tattoo of a columbine or rose?

    1. Wouldn’t it be fun to see a little cluster of these done in a fine porcelain? That’s the one medium that seems delicate enough to suit them.

  9. How could you NOT be behind with the abundance of blooms in your world? I think you could post every day and still not run out of new offerings! This one is charming, too!

    1. You’re right about the abundance here! Spring is such a marvelous season; there’s always something new to see from day to day. I did finally get my ‘going solo’ post for February up. It has a few more photos of these violets; I don’t think there ever could be too many!

      I’ll bet your mother’s day was a good one. I hope you got to share it with the grands.

    1. I think those purple lines help to accent the purity of the white, as well. It is a gorgeous little thing, and certainly eye-catching. Apparently it’s quite a favorite of butterflies and bees, as well. Beautiful and useful!

        1. It sure is. When it was released in 1959, I was thirteen years old, in seventh grade, and feeding quarters into the jukebox at the Y where went for hamburgers and malts on Fridays. There’s nothing like a little dancing to get you ready for study hall.

  10. Lovely bloom lovingly photographed.

    These are common in our area. Having said that, guess who can’t find a single image of one among his millions and millions of archived photographs? Sigh. Once more into the bog …..

    1. It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t have a photo of this one. After all, if you’re busy looking up, searching for birds, it would be remarkably easy to miss these little blooms.
      I suppose timing has a role to play, too. I’ve not seen these on any of my previous trips to the Big Thicket, and I’ve been going there for about four years or more. My first trips were in autumn, and were occasioned by my search for the white Winkler’s gaillardia; I kept returning in autumn, and that alone would have kept these off my radar.

    1. It does look rather like one continous curve, doesn’t it? Finding a flower in just the right stage of opening was worth the crawling around!

        1. As long as we remain regular crawlers, we’ll be fine. I would hate to come across an irregular crawler in the woods — that might be creepy.

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