This little viola is a fantastic ground cover for a cool, moist shady environment. It has rich dark purple foliage during the cool weather of spring and fall. Plants can be cut back in early spring to remove winter-damaged foliage and/or they can be sheared after the main flush of flowers to stimulate new blooms. It spreads by creeping stems and by self-seeding, naturalizing the area in which it has been planted. You will find it growing along the path from the ticket booth to the Conservatory underneath the shade of the amazing lace bark pine trees and the majestic dawn redwoods.
This plant is a nectar source for butterflies and other pollinators, a larval food source for many fritillary (similar in appearance to the monarch) butterflies, and cover for small wildlife. The seeds of the Labrador violet are a food source for cardinals and other song birds. It's a small plant with many benefits.
Photo by Layanee DeMerchant