Members of this family have distinct flowers - the 2 upper petals, the 2 middle petals and the lower 5th petal are all different, with the lower also having a sac-like spur near its base. The 5 sepals are also unequal, and of the 5 stamens, the lower 2 have winglike lobes that extend into the spur of the lower petal.
Two of the Bay Area natives from this family are well-suited to the home native garden: the deciduous Viola glabella (Stream Violet) and the evergreen Viola sempervirens (Evergreen Violet). Both have yellow flowers and do well in shaded, moist areas.
On Montara Mountain, this family is represented by Viola adunca (Western Dog Violet).
Flowers: Light blue to purple, 5 petals; on top of long stems.
Blooms: March - June.
Leaves: Rounded to heart-shaped, on long erect stems, lancelike bracts below the petiole base.
Fruit/Seeds: Small, hard and dark fruits; splitting into 3 seeds when ripe.
Location: Grasy trails, moist openings in woods, throughout the lower elevations of the mountain.
Status: Native - Common.
A healthy batch of V. adunca growing along side the trail. The white flower is Cerastium arvense - (Field Chickweed). Photo by Bill and Barbara VanderWerf.
Further description & Comment: 2 - 4 inches tall, growing in low mounds.
Members of Viola. are edible and quite nutritous: remarkedly high in vitamin C and beta-carotene. A tincture or tea from the whole plant, fresh or dried, may be used as a sedative and laxative, and helps with eczema in both the young and aged.
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