Bird-foot Violet is a Wisconsin native perennial typically found in the central and southern counties of the state, in high-quality habitats such as open woodlands, Black Oak savannas, Jack Pine forests, and abandoned fields. The flowers of Bird-foot Violet are a treat in early spring and are especially loved by butterflies. The Pansy-like bluish-purple flowers sit atop deeply cut basal leaves sending the heart a-flutter after a long winter.
You may also know Bird-foot Violet as Bird’s-foot Violet or Crowfoot Violet.
Fruit Notes: Capsule, ¼-1/2" long. Splits open when ripe. Contains shiny brown seeds
This small woodland perennial provides pops of color in the early spring when little else is flowering. Diminutive pretty flowers provide pollinators with food after a long winter. With its need for well-draining soil, Bird-foot Violet can be a bit more temperamental than other violets, but there won’t be a problem if it is sited properly, in well-draining soil.
Plant Bird-foot Violet along the edges of gravelly paths and driveways as it would be lovely to walk along a path in early spring and be greeted by such a welcoming site.
Due to its love of well-draining soil, it would be a good addition to rock gardens, adding color early in the season.
Mix into a native or butterfly garden as it is a host plant for several species of butterflies!
It makes a great groundcover option if restoring pine-oak barrens in a sandy location or within drier woodland areas.
By planting Bird-foot Violet you are doing a solid for the environment and our pollinator friends. Take pleasure not only in the beautiful blooms, but also knowing that you are connecting to what matters!
Bird-foot Violet is a great pollinator plant for a variety of butterfly species. The very structure of the flower encourages pollinators in a few ways. The throat of the lower petals is white with dark violet lines, which act as a nectar guide for insects. The flowers of Bird-foot Violet are held ‘face-up,’ allowing insects to easily land, making it more attractive to butterflies and skippers.
It is a host plant to Fritillary butterflies and is especially preferred by the Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia), as well as Bog (Boloria eunomia), Silver-bordered (Boloria selene), Aphrodite (Speyeria aphrodite), Meadow (Boloria bellona), Great Spangled (Speyeria cybele), Atlantis (Speyeria atlantis), Variegated (Euptoieta Claudia), and The Beggar (Eubaphe mendica).
Skipper butterflies, bumblebees, and digger bees (Anthophorine spp.) are also common visitors.
Aside from the typical insects, ants are attracted to the sugary coating secreted by the seeds, which they carry back to their nests thereby aiding in dispersal; this process is known as myrmecochory.
It is very important to plant Bird-foot Violet in a site with well-draining soil. We can’t stress this enough. If in conditions that are too moist, the plant can suffer from root rot.
When in the right conditions, this plant will readily reseed. It does not spread by stolons like many other violets.
Keep away competition so as not to overcrowd plants.
There is no need for fertilization as this species tends to prefer leaner soils.
Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes Deer Resistant: Yes Rabbit Resistant: No
Bird-foot Violet is susceptible to crown rot if drainage isn’t excellent.
Rabbits will eat the foliage.
The genus Viola is Latin for “various sweet-scented flowers” while the specific epithet pedata means ‘like a bird’s foot’ referencing the deeply cut, lobed leaves that give the appearance of a bird’s foot.
Young leaves and flower buds can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into tea. Infusions of the roots have been used to treat coughs, colds, and dysentery.
Bird-foot Violet petals can be blue-purple or bicolored where the upper petals are dark purple and the lower ones are blue-purple. It is suggested that the anthocyanin levels in bicolor flowers act as a chemical defense against herbivory. Neat.
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Essentially we are a wholesale grower that welcomes the general public. Johnson’s Nursery provides Retail sales and Landscape design/build services from our Menomonee Falls headquarters. Our wholesale clientele of municipalities, landscape contractors, garden centers, and other nurseries can arrange to pick up material either in Menomonee Falls or our Jackson, WI Farm holding yards.
The information found on our website is provided for free and Johnson’s Nursery, LLC.™ does not assume any liability resulting from the information provided. We hope this information helps.
These are rough guidelines and may speak generically to our broad customer mix. Not all possible situations are covered. How plants act may be unique to the conditions presented by your landscape. Your landscape should be inspected by a trained professional.