wild violet

Wild violet (Viola papilionacea). Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: March 3, 2023

Life cycle and growth habit

Wild violets are native and they do have wildlife value. They are the larval food source for fritillary butterflies.

Perennial. Low-growing (< 1-ft. from basal crown); heart-shaped leaves; flowers blue to violet, occasionally white, on leafless stalks.


Seed and short, branching rhizomes.

Conditions that favor growth

Thrives in moist, shady sites, but tolerates drought once established; mowing the lawn too short. Common in thinning lawns, shady areas, and acidic soils. But can spread into sunnier, drier areas. 

Management in lawns

Lawn care practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

Lawn Care

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. 

Manage Weeds Without Chemicals

Chemical treatment in lawns

Wild violets benefit fritillary butterflies and should be left to grow.

Chemical herbicides do not work well to manage them and they will continue to return unless the growing conditions are improved for grass growth. If growing grass is not successful in these areas consider planting a native shade-loving groundcover. 

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