En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Taxonomic question about Viola missouriensis and Viola affinis.

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 28, 2011

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Taxonomic question about Viola missouriensis and Viola affinis.
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have tentatively identified a violet as either Viola affinis or V. missouriensis. However, the pages for those species are dated 2007 and 2009, respectively, in the NPIN, while it reads that V. missouriensis has been subsumed under V. affinis and is no longer considered a separate species. The Missouri Violet page says it's synonymous with V. sororia var. missouriensis, so I guess that is a possible plant ID as well. What's the most current classification? I'd like to be accurate instead of confused. Thanks!

ANSWER:

The taxonomy of the genus Viola has been in flux for some time.
 
The entire paragraph on the Viola affinis (Sand violet) page in NPIN (Native Plant Information Network) about it being subsumed by V. missouriensis was an error.  It has been removed.  When we did the research on that page, we clearly entered information dealing with another taxon.  The lists of synonyms and range were also erroneous and have now been corrected.
 
The NPIN record for Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet) was for the most part correct, but some of the states in its known range were not listed.  Those errors have also been corrected.
 
The taxonomic authority for USDA Plants Database (and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center) is The Synthesis of North American Flora, the database of the Biota of North America Project (BONAP).  It is my understanding that ARS-GRIN (Agricultural Research Service-Germplasm Resources Information Network) and ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) use a variety of taxonomic references.
 
Now to what’s what.  Both USDA Plants Database and The Flora of North America recognize Viola missouriensis as an accepted name.  ITIS lists it as a synonym of Viola affinis (the accepted name according to ITIS).  ARS-GRIN has it as a synonym of V. sororia var. missouriensis.
 
On the other hand, ARS-GRIN lists Viola affinis as a synonym of V. sororia var. affinis.  As previously mentioned, ITIS considers A. affinis an accepted name.  USDA Plants also has it as a good name but The Flora of North America project does not yet address that taxon (It’s a work in progress).
 
Who to believe?  The simple answer is, believe us.  However, the correct name for any species is the most recent validly published name for that taxon.  The question of validity sometimes takes a few years to sort out.  Our authority, The Synthesis of North American Flora, takes a conservative approach to name changes to allow the scientific community time to evaluate and comment on new combinations and revisions to the scientific record.  We think that’s a wise approach.

Thank you for pointing out the inconsistencies for these species in our Native Plant Database so that we could correct them.  Our goal is for the information we provide to be as accurate as possible.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Eliminating unwanted vine on arbor in San Francisco
November 20, 2012 - There is a vine growing on our arbor, it has sickle-shaped pods and is crushing the arbor, how do we get rid of it?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Resurrection Plant
June 03, 2005 - Hello, I have a plant that my grandmother gave to me. When she gave me the plant it was a dried bundle; but, as soon as she put in water, the plant opened up and came to life again. Then, we let it...
view the full question and answer

Unusual vine in San Diego County, California
May 12, 2012 - Dear Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, I came across an unusual vine winding through a young Zumaque growing off the edge of a mesa in San Diego (coastal sage scrub). The small (fingernail-sized)leaves rough...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Keller TX
March 18, 2009 - I'm trying to i.d. a wildflower found in Keller, Tx. It is about 8 in. tall, single upright stem with narrow, slender leaves up the stem, several red blooms at top of stem about 1 inch wide, 5 petals...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of 3-leaf plant with red berries in Utah
July 27, 2011 - I would like to send you a picture to ID a 3 leaf plant with red berries. Could you give me an email to do that? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center