Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Bird's-foot or Crowfoot Violet: Viola pedata

Weed Description:  A perennial with short rhizomes that is often misidentified as one of the buttercup species prior to flowering.  Bird's-foot violet is usually found along the edges of woods in the mountainous and piedmont areas of Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  It is rarely viewed as a weed but often admired as a wildflower.

Stems:  Plants grow prostrate along the ground with no real stems present.  Flowers occur on long flower stalks (peduncles).

Roots: Short rhizomes.

Fruit: A capsule that ranges from 7 to 9 mm in length.

Leaves:  Leaves are without hairs and dissected or lobed into 3 main parts, with each lobe arising from the same central point.  The lateral lobes are lobed or dissected again into 3 parts.   The central lobe is also lobed or dissected into at least 3 parts.  Overall, the leaves are approximately 1 to 2 inches long and occur on petioles that are approximately 6 inches long.

Flowers: Approximately 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 inches wide, purple to light blue in color.  Flowers consist of 2 upper petals that are deep purple  in color and three lower petals that are light purple to lavender in color.  Flowers occur on long flower stalks (peduncles).

Identifying Characteristics:   The leaves that are lobed or dissected into 3 parts, with each lobe then divided further and the distinctive flowers are both characteristics that help to distinguish this plant from most other species.  Prior to flowering, bird's-foot violet may be mistaken with any of the buttercup species, including Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus).  However, most of the buttercups have leaves with a central lobe that eventually occurs on its own stalk, unlike bird's-foot violet.  Additionally, the lateral lobes of most buttercup leaves are not divided further as in bird's-foot violet.