(Viola) Violet family

Fine hairs on the erect, leafy, usually single stem of the DOWNY

YELLOW VIOLET (V. pubescens), whose dark veined, bright yellow

petals gleam in dry woods in April and May, easily distinguish it

from the SMOOTH YELLOW VIOLET (V. scabriuscula), formerly

considered a mere variety in spite of its being an earlier

bloomer, a lover of moisture, and well equipped with basal leaves

at flowering time, which the downy species is not. Moreover, it

bears a paler blossom, more coarsely dentate leaves, often

decidedly taper-pointed, and usually several stems together.

Our other common yellow species, the ROUND-LEAVED VIOLET (V.

rotundifolia), lifts smaller, pale, brown-veined, and bearded

blossoms above a tuffet of broad, shining leaves close to the

ground. The veins on the petals serve as pathfinders to the

nectary for the bee, and the beard as footholds, while she probes

the inverted blossoms. Such violets as have their side petals

bearded are most frequently visited by small greenish mason bees

(Osmia), with collecting brushes on their abdomen that receive

the pollen as it falls. Abundant cleistogamous flowers (see blue

violets and white wood sorrel) are borne on the runners late in

the season. Bryant, whose botanical lore did not always keep step

with his Muse, wrote of the yellow violet as the first spring

flower, because he found it "by the snowbank's edges cold," one

April day, when the hepaticas about his home at Roslyn, Long

Island, had doubtless been in bloom a month.

"Of all her train the hands of Spring

First plant thee in the watery mould,"

he wrote, regardless of the fact that the round-leaved violet's

preferences are for dry, wooded, or rocky hillsides. Muller

believed that all violets were originally yellow, not white,

after they evoluted from the green stage.

YELLOW SWEET CLOVER YELLOW MELILOT YELLOW WOODSORREL LADY'S SORREL facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail