Dwarf marsh violet – Viola epipsila

Alaska Wildflowers | Purple

Dwarf marsh violet flower (Viola epipsila)

Dwarf marsh violet

Viola epipsila

Common Names

Dwarf marsh violet
Marsh violet
Northern marsh violet




Viola epipsila ssp. repens

Genus: Viola
Family: Violaceae
Order: Malpighiales
full classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

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

The leaves and flowers of are edible raw or cooked and tea can be made from the leaves. The root of dwarf marsh violet is dried and used as incense by the Tanana of Alaska.

Identification and Information

The dwarf marsh violet is a small, flowering, hermaphroditic plant that grows to be about 10 cm (4 inches) in height. It usually grows in small colonies connected by stolons. The roots are slender and fleshy. The leaves are basal and cordate in shape. The leaves typically have a hairy underside. Each flower typically has no more than two leaves. The flower is nodding, light violet, with 5 petals and 5 sepals. The lowest petal often has deep violet veins. It has 5 stamens and a single style.

Distribution and Habitat

Dwarf marsh violet is a bit of a confusing species, especially when it comes to its distribution. This is possibly due to another species, Viola epipsela which is a synonym of Viola palustris (marsh violet), a larger plant with larger leaves than Viola epipsila. Viola epipsila regularly hybridizes with Viola palustris. Not all sources are in agreement. It is found in Alaska, much of Canada, and Eurasia. It most likely has a larger distribution area than is shown in the map above.

Viola epipsila is commonly found in marshes or along stream banks and mossy, wet soil. It grows in shady, cool areas like forest floors.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina  (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                           FamilyViolaceae (violets, violettes)
                              GenusViola (violettes, violet)
                                 SpeciesViola epipsila (dwarf marsh violet)

References and Further Reading


Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 8 (Alaska Violet)

Classification and Taxonomy

Viola epipsila  Ledeb. Taxonomic Serial No.: 505711, ITIS Database

Viola epipsila Ledeb. dwarf marsh violet, USDA Database


Violaceae Viola epipsila Ledeb., Native American Ethnobotany Database

Viola epipsila – Ledeb., Plants For A Future

Description and Information

Dwarf Marsh Violet – Viola epipsila, NatureGate

18. Viola epipsila Ledebour, Index Seminum (Dorpat). 1820: 5. 1820., Flora of North America

18a. Viola epipsila Ledebour var. repens (W. Becker) R. J. Little, J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas. 4: 225. 2010., Flora of North America

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