Bird’s-Foot Violet

Family: 
Violaceae (violets)
Description: 

Flowers about 1 inch across. Has two color phases: either all 5 petals pale lilac or lavender, or the upper 2 petals deep, velvety purple and the 3 lower petals pale lilac to lavender. Rare color patterns are white and combinations of the above. The center of the united stamens is always deep orange. Blooms April-June. Leaves deeply dissected “like a bird’s foot.” Leaves developing later in the season have somewhat wider, straplike segments.

Size: 
Height: to 6 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs on rocky, well-drained, usually acid soils of open woods, road embankments, glades, bluffs, and ridges. Appreciates disturbed areas with perfect drainage but cannot survive the later intrusion of competing plants.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide.
Human connections: 
Though it can be difficult to supply the dry, sunny sites bird's-foot violet requires, this species can be used in home gardening. Always purchase your native wildflowers from a responsible dealer!
Ecosystem connections: 
This species is an excellent nectar plant for butterflies, and some butterflies, particularly the fritillaries, use the foliage of violets as their caterpillars' food plant.