Viola pedata is one of the signature species of black oak sand savannas. Blooming occurs in May; the plant becomes inconspicuous in midsummer. The common name is derived from the distinctive shape of the foliage.
Biodiversity means more than the preservation of species--it means preservation of the genetic diversity expressed in particular species. The color variation shown in the photo below is an example of the diversity that can be seen with the eye; however, most genetic variation is probably invisible to the casual observer.
This species is believed to be the larval host plant for the Regal Fritillary butterfly, a prairie dependent species. Other fritillaries also use this and other violets as larval hosts; in midsummer they feed on the nectar of Butterfly Milkweed. This relationship is an example of why it is important to include spring and mid-summer flowers in prairie and savanna restorations, along with the popular and easy-to-seed-collect late summer varieties. Without a representative cross section of forbs, the forage base for prairie insects will have gaps, and these beautiful prairie creatures are unlikely to survive.