Friday, March 23, 2007

Tiny treasures

Virginia pennywort, Obolaria virginica

A plant that's very easy to overlook in the leaf litter. It would be nice in rock gardens, I think. Some of them get a bit larger than this, but not by much.*

Do you see any violets?

I took this picture with the camera pointed at my feet.** There are almost a dozen clumps of Viola walteri in the frame. (A.k.a. Prostrate blue violet or Walter's violet.)

Here's a closer look, with my foot for scale:***

They're very petite.

Most of them are purple, but there are a few white ones:

Every flower in a clump is the same color.

They have a medium-length hook or spur behind the flower. At our place they grow in dry limestone areas. (For the longest time, I just assumed they were regular violets that were stunted because of poor soil conditions!)

Common but still enchanting:

Bluets! This is one of the first wildflowers that I learned the name of. It's also how I learned that many birdwatchers are also very knowledgeable about plants: when the birds aren't showing themselves, you can always look around on the ground. ("Hey, what do you call this little purple flower, anyway?")


*My glove size is small, so this really is a tiny plant.
**I'm 5'4", which is exactly average for American women by the way, not short, and I'm not standing on a rock or anything.
***My feet are sort of small too, size 6.
(Yes, since I've gained weight I like pointing out the things about me that are still small!)


In researching the Walter's violet I came across a nice Alabama wildflower web page, Here is a link to that site's excellent photos of Viola walteri.


A sad update:
While preparing to email Dan Tenaglia about his excellent site mentioned above, I learned that he passed away in an accident just last month.


pablo said...

Perfect in every way! (Nice flowers, too.)


robin andrea said...

I love the colors on the flower against the palm of your hand. They are tiny flowers, aren't they?

karl said...

what pablo said.


Ki said...

The pennyworth is a treasure. Are the violets viola odora? I just bought some for the fragrance but still hasn't shipped. We saw some bluets last year at our most frequented nursery and bought 3. Very tiny, tiny leaves and flowers but unlike yours was white with a blueish tinge on the edges. Never saw them before and they seem to have survived a zone 6 winter so look forward to the flowers again.

Rurality said...

Pablo & Karl, y'all are too sweet! :)

RA, I hate to think of how many I might have stepped on in the past, before I was aware of them.

Ki, no it's Viola walteri. I don't think they have a scent, but to tell you the truth I didn't stick my nose all the way down there! The bluets are so common here, they are regarded as a lawn weed by a lot of people. But I love them. I tried to look up the scientific name, but there were so many varieties that I wasn't sure which it was, since I didn't examine them too closely.

KFarmer said...

Such pretty posies- :)

meresy_g said...

I love those tiny violets. I wish we had those in our yard instead of the common blue violet which seems poised to take over the lawn.

anne said...

I just love your photos. I do believe I've said that before! I really need to do more of what you do - get out there and photograph what I'm looking at. The first thing I'll see around here is coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) - you've given me inspiration to photograph it and post it!

I've been meaning to comment on your rust post - nothing very interesting, just that I work with rust quite often at my job. Presently, I work in an agricultural lab, and we have cedar trees in our apple orchard just to cultivate cedar-apple rust! It really is alien-like. Your photos are terrific.

That news about the man behind that website is very sad.

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