Johnny-jump-up flowers are very small, violet-shaped, washed-out blue or violet, with a very light yellow or white center. Plants growing on acid soils seem to have more intense coloration. Blooms March–May. Leaves to ¾ inch long, rounded, irregularly scalloped. At the base of each leaf is a large stipule (leaflike appendage) deeply lobed like the spread tail of a bird.
Height: to about 3 inches.
Where To Find
Statewide, but apparently absent from our northernmost counties.
Occurs in fields, meadows, glades, rights-of-way, disturbed sites, waste places, and possibly your front lawn. This is not our largest violet, but it's one of the most common. The coloration of these delicate-looking flowers often looks faded.
For a long time, botanists have investigated this plant's relationship to the other violets in North America. As their understandings have changed, so has the scientific name. Thus in other references you may find it referred to as "Viola rafinesquii" and "Viola kitaibeliana var. rafinesquii." Most now believe this plant is entirely native to North America, though in the past, many thought it was introduced long ago from the Old World.
Like most other violets and pansies, this plant is edible, and its flowers make a pretty garnish on spring salads. Violets also have a history of being used medicinally and as garden flowers.
Often, when we picture "herbivores," we think of large animals like cattle or deer, and even mice. But "herbivore" also describes a multitude of insects, and they need plant food, too. Violets are the special food plant of fritillary butterfly caterpillars.
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!