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Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata)

Life history

Species overview

Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in rich hardwood or hemlock-northern hardwood forests, mostly near Lake Michigan. Blooming occurs late May through late June; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late June.

Synonyms: Viola rostrata var. elongata


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Lateral petals beardless, spur 7 to 12 mm; style tip straight.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers elevated above the leaves; petals light violet, with darker veins forming a pronounced eye, all beardless.
  • Fruit characteristics: Fruit stoutly ellipsoid, 5 to 6 mm; seeds light yellow-brown.
  • Leaf characteristics: Alternate, ovate, often broadly so, 2 to 4 cm, heart-shaped at base, all but the lowermost acute; stipules lanceolate, fringe-toothed above the middle.


  • Blooming phenology: late May through late June
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout July
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late June


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Quercus rubra, Pinus strobus, Betula alleghaniensis, Tilia americana, Fagus grandifolia, Tsuga canadensis, Allium tricoccum, Anemone quinquefolia, Maianthemum canadense, Trillium grandiflorum, Uvularia grandiflora.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Viola rostrata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2S3
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in rich hardwood or hemlock-northern hardwood forests, mostly near Lake Michigan.
  • Soils: Deep humus.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Long-spurred Violet. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Long-spurred Violet. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.


Long-spurred Violet Photo.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner, Wisconsin DNR.

Long-spurred Violet Photo.

Photo © Janeen Ruby.

Long-spurred Violet Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Long-spurred Violet Photo.

Long-spurred violet is limited in Wisconsin to rich forests in the northeastern part of the state.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Long-spurred Violet Photo.

Photo © Robert Freckmann.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition