Edge of the Prairiethe sand prairies and savannas of the Chicago region

    Viola pedata
    Birdfoot Violet

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.

Viola pedata

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.

Viola pedata

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.

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Close-Up View of Viola pedata. [136k]

Colony of Viola pedata on the west side of a grove of black oaks (Quercus velutina). Associated plants include western sunflower (Helianthus occidentalis), and little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius). [122k]

All photographs by Marty Lucas and © Becknell and Lucas Media, Ltd. Students may freely use these images in school reports not for publication without requesting permission. Others, please request permission by writing e-mail to Marty Lucas. Requests for uses aiding in the understanding and appreciation of prairies and native plants are routinely granted. Higher resolution photographs (sans copyright notice) suitable for printing are available for purchase.


Bird's Foot Violet - Viola pedata from the Wildflowers of Western Kentucky.

Viola pedata: on the hort.net photo gallery.

Viola pedata: from the Connecticut Botanical Society.

Viola pedata: bi-color variety.



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