Friday, April 17, 2009
New Clues to the Violet Mystery
READER ALERT: This post is for wildflower nerds.
Too much wind today to go back on the river, so I went back to Skidmore woods to revisit my mystery white violet. (The small, fragrant, pure white, un-veined variety I wrote about in my post for April 2.) I found a couple of clues that might yet lead to discovering its name.
First, I saw one plant of purple flowers, right in the middle of the patch. Same size, same leaf shape, same basal-leaves-only configuration, same fuzzy stems, same fragrance. But purple, not white. Just one purple plant among dozens and dozens of white ones. Could it be a variety of the same species? A hybrid? A mutation? Hmmmm. I just don't know.
Second, I turned a pure-white one over, and discovered its spur was purple. Just the spur, not the backs of the petals like Canada Violet. Well that should be a distinguishing feature, I thought as I pored over my guide books later. To no avail. Audubon's, Newcomb's, Peterson's, even Britton & Brown's. Not a single early-blooming, pure white, unveined, basal-leaved, fragrant, purple-spurred violet (with a possible all-purple variation) could I find. Anybody else have a clue?
Then I found another entirely different violet, this one not in the woods but out in a sunny, grassy spot. The richest, deepest, most radiant purple, with a fragrance -- no, a perfume -- as deep as its color. This, too, had a quite distinctive feature: the lower outside petals were folded up, unlike any other violet I've ever seen. And once again, while searching my books, I never found a picture or description of this violet. What shall I call it, then, when I record it in my journal? Guess I'll call it "Purple Perfumed." Unless somebody out there can tell me its official name.