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Viola glabella (Pioneer violet)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Viola glabella

Viola glabella Nutt.

Pioneer Violet, Smooth Yellow Violet

Violaceae (Violet Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

This is a 4-15 in. violet with large, bright-green, heart-shaped basal leaves just below the deep-yellow, pansy-like flowers. The lateral and lower petals are marked with purple veins. Slender leaning or erect stems with leaves only in upper one-third, and bilaterally symmetrical, yellow flowers facing outward, hanging from slender stalks.

A very common species in moist, shaded places in woods. Most western Violets have yellow rather than purple corollas, but all have the perky little flower with a spur or pouch behind the lower petal. The lower petal forms a landing platform for insects seeking nectar within the spur.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 15 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Sometimes purple veined.


USA: AK , CA , ID , MT , OR , WA
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: C. & n. CA to AK, e. to the northern Rockies
Native Habitat: Cool, moist redwood forests; stream banks

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil Description: Moist to wet soils.
Conditions Comments: Smooth yellow violet is easy to establish in woodland gardens. It may reseed and can become a bit invasive.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Silver-bordered Fritillary
(Boloria selene)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Propagate by seed.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Viola glabella in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Viola glabella in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Viola glabella


Record Modified: 2023-01-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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