As April dawns, clumps of wild violets begin to bloom across our modest lawn in central Missouri. Welcomed by naturalists and many home owners, these attractive perennials are derided as obnoxious and persistent weeds by professional lawn masters. As you can see for yourself, most internet sites devoted to wild violets focus on methods to eliminate them from your lush, green carpet of grass.
Wild violets are among 600+ species in the genus Viola, most of which favor cool, Temperate climates. Indeed, they generally become established in moist, shaded portions of the lawn and later spread to adjacent areas that receive partial sun. Dense, fibrous root networks spread through the soil, giving rise to heart-shaped leaves and the colorful flowers in early-mid spring; seed capsules form beneath the leaves and lawn mowing augments dispersal of the seeds.
In addition to adorning the lawn in spring and diversifying the plant life on your property, wild violets offer sustenance, providing a natural salad component that is a good source of vitamins A and C; the flowers are also used as an additive in teas, honey and deserts. A variety of medicinal benefits have been attributed to this wildflower though I am not personally aware of scientific data supporting those claims. For me, their seasonal beauty is therapy enough.