Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Viola renifolia
Kidney-leaved Violet
Violaceae (Violet Family)


General - a perennial from short, scaly, ascending rhizomes; no stolons or leafy, erect stems.

Kidney-leaved Violet Leaves - at stem base, heart- to kidney-shaped, 2 - 5 cm across, rounded at tip, sharp- to round-toothed, hairy, at least below.

Flowers - single, from leaf axils; pure white; stalks often shorter than leaf stems; petals 8 - 10 mm long, beardless, lower 3 purple-lined; spur very short; appearing early summer.

Fruit - purplish, nearly spherical capsules; seeds brown; ripening mid-summer.


Cool, moist to swampy woods; widespread across our region, north and west to Great Bear Lake and southern Alaska.


Violets are high in vitamins A and C; the leaves contain as much vitamin C as 4 oranges. The flowers have been used as a garnish (fresh or candied) or as a flavouring and colouring in vinegar. They have also been made into jelly and syrup. However, the rhizomes, fruits and/or seeds of some violets are poisonous, causing severe stomach and intestinal upset, as well as nervousness and respiratory and circulatory depression. The species name renifolia, from the Latin rens, 'a kidney', and folium, 'a leaf', refers to the kidney-shaped leaves typical of this plant.

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