Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Rare plant monitoring annual report

Catch up with the latest news in rare plant monitoring efforts throughout Wisconsin.

Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle

Sand Violet (Viola sagittata var. ovata)

Life history

Species overview

Sand Violet (Viola sagittata var. ovata), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found on dry, sandstone roadcuts or trailsides with little competition other than jack pine. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is throughout June.

Synonyms: Viola fimbriatula


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Blades of principal leaves relatively narrow, generally at least 1.5 times as long as wide, subtruncate to shallowly cordate at base, sometimes all crenate-serrate, sometimes with larger and more spreading teeth at the base or with small basal lobes.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers 2 to 2.5 cm wide, violet-purple, the 3 lower petals bearded at the base; style dilated upwards with a conic beak on the lower side, the stigma within the tip of the beak; cleistogamous flowers on erect peduncles.
  • Fruit characteristics: Fruit ovoid with brown seeds.
  • Leaf characteristics: Alternate, arrowhead-shaped, smooth or hairy, most relatively narrow (ovate or narrower), subtruncate to shallow heart-shape at the base, sometimes all crenate-serrate, sometimes with larger and more spreading teeth at the base or with small basal lobes.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Pinus banksiana, Poa compressa, Arabis lyrata, Campanula rotundifolia, Quercus ellipsoidalis, Q. velutina, Vaccinium angustifolium, Gaylussacia baccata, Pteridium aquilinium, Danthonia spicata.

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 Sand Violet (Viola sagittata var. ovata). 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 sagittata var. ovata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5T5
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 on dry, sandstone roadcuts or trailsides with little competition other than jack pine.
  • Soils: Sandy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Sand 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 Sand 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.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

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

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Sand Violet Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Sand Violet Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Sand Violet Photo.

Sand violet occurs in barrens and sand prairie remnants at a few locations in central Wisconsin. Black River State Forest, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein, Wisconsin DNR.

Sand Violet Photo.

Photo © Ann Stoda.

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