Arctic yellow violet – Viola biflora

Alaska Wildflowers | Yellow

Arctic yellow violet

Viola biflora
Viola biflora var. biflora (notes in Identification section)

Common Names

Arctic yellow violet
northern violet
small yellow violet
twoflower violet
yellow wood violet

Synonyms

none

Subspecies

Viola biflora var. biflora
Viola biflora var. carlottae

Genus: Viola
Family: Violaceae
Order: Malpighiales

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb



Identification and Information

Viola biflora, also known as the Arctic Yellow Violet or sometimes as Yellow Wood Violet, is a perennial herb deriving from a rhizome and fibrous roots. It does not produce stolons (runners). The stems are ascending to erect, smooth, and leafless except on the uppermost section, and they can range from 5-20 cm tall. The leaves are basal, rounded to heart- or kidney-shaped, and blunt- to saw-toothed. Leaf blades can be 0.6-2 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, and the stalks are 8-16 cm long. The stalks are hairy above and along the veins. Stem leaves are similar to basal leaves, with shorter stalks that are equal to or longer than the blades. Stipules are lanceolate, 2-5 mm long, and entire.

The inflorescence is composed of single axillary flowers (each individual flower is growing by itself from the place where a leaf meets the stem). The petals are yellow, and there are five of them, with the lower petal being 9-12 mm long, including the 1- to 2-mm long spur. Flower stalks present distinctive purple lines. The sepals are also five in number, oblong, fringed in the upper half, and with a conspicuous purple-black stripe. The style heads are smooth. Fruits are sparsely short-haired capsules, 8-12 mm long, containing brown seeds.

Viola biflora var. biflora is a subspecies of Viola biflora also occurring in Alaska. It is widely distributed throughout Eurasia, the Yukon, and Colorado. It shares many characteristics with the parent species but has a few distinguishing features. It tends to have a smaller lower petal, ranging only from 6-10 mm, and smaller seeds ranging from 1.5-2 mm. It typically inhabits mountainous and arctic regions, tundra, mesic alpine meadows, scree slopes, grassy places in the shade of alders and willows, lake margins, granite outcrops, moist coniferous forests, along streams and falls in wet moss, alluvial soil, and sand.

Viola biflora has been known to hybridize with V. glabella. The plant is frequently found on the Queen Charlotte Islands but is rare on NW Vancouver Island; it extends North to Southeast Alaska.

Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

Viola biflora, also known as the Arctic Yellow Violet or Twoflower Violet, has been known to have several uses, both culinary and cultural.

In a culinary context, the young leaves and flower buds of the plant can be eaten either raw or cooked. When added to soups, they have a thickening effect, similar to the use of okra. The flowers of the plant, which are typically yellow, can also be eaten raw. However, caution is advised with this practice, as the consumption of large quantities of yellow flowers has been known to cause diarrhea. In addition, tea can be made from the leaves of the Viola biflora [PFAF].

Culturally, the plant has had significant use amongst the Eskimo Inuktitut. Documented in ‘Notes on Ethnobotany in Inuktitut’ by Michael R. Wilson, the stems with blossoms of Viola biflora were placed among clothes for their fragrance, serving as a form of natural incense.

Please note that while these uses have been documented, further research and consultation with a medical or botanical professional are advised before attempting to use Viola biflora or any other plant for medicinal or culinary purposes.


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)
Unlimited Photo Storage

Distribution and Habitat

Viola biflora is a widespread species found in various parts of the world. It’s native to Europe, Siberia, Central Asia, Pakistan, western and northern China, North Korea, Japan, and Western North America, including Alaska, Colorado, British Columbia, and the Yukon.

V. biflora thrives in alpine environments. This includes tundra, alpine meadows, scree slopes, in the shade of alders and willows, rock outcroppings, and along streams and falls.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
ClassMagnoliopsida 
SuperorderRosanae 
OrderMalpighiales 
FamilyViolaceae (violets, violettes)
GenusViola L. (violettes, violet)
SpeciesViola biflora L. (arctic yellow violet)
 Direct Children:
       VarietyViola biflora var. biflora L. (arctic yellow violet)
       VarietyViola biflora var. carlottae (Calder & Roy L. Taylor) B. Boivin (Carlott’s violet)

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg. 8 (mention under Alaska violet)

Classification and Taxonomy

Viola biflora L. Taxonomic Serial No.: 22048, ITIS Database

Uses

Violaceae Viola biflora L., Native American Ethnobotany Database

Viola biflora – L., Plants For A Future

Map and Distribution

Viola biflora L. Published in: L. (1753). In: Sp. Pl. 936., GBIF Database

Description and Information

Viola biflora Linnaeus, Flora of North America

Viola biflora var. biflora, Flora of North America

Support This Site

Consider becoming a member to access exclusive perks and support the sustainability of this valuable resource. Already a member? Log in here!

Level

Free

Trailblazer Monthly

Explorer Monthly

Patron Monthly

Price

Free.

$3.00 per Month.

$6.00 per Month.

$10.00 per Month.

Description

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  Select Select Select Select
Occasional Newsletter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free Articles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exclusive Content* No Yes Yes Yes
Ad-free browsing** No No Yes Yes
Discounts on Prints No No Yes Yes
Priority Responses For Questions No No No Yes
Advanced Notice On New Content No No No Yes
More In-depth Content No No No Yes
  Select Select Select Select

Free

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
Select

Free.

Trailblazer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
Select

$3.00 per Month.

Explorer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
Select

$6.00 per Month.

Patron Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
  • Priority Responses For Questions
  • Advanced Notice On New Content
  • More In-depth Content
Select

$10.00 per Month.

* I don’t plan on hiding much content behind a paywall because I believe it should be open and accessible to all. However, maintaining this website involves a significant investment of both time and money. I spend countless hours building and writing these pages and articles and incur thousands of dollars annually to keep the site running.

Your support through membership helps cover these expenses and allows me to continue providing high-quality content. Membership allows you to access exclusive perks and content and contribute to this valuable resource's sustainability. Thank you for your support!

** Ads and affiliate links will still be shown on relevant content, like in gear reviews.

   

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related Posts

Cypripedium guttatum spotted lady’s slipper
Vaccinium uliginosum Bog bilberry
The purple flower with numerous yellow stamens of the prairie pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana)