E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Viola palustris L.
alpine marsh violet (marsh violet)
Violaceae (Violet family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Aaron Baldwin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #13744)

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Distribution of Viola palustris
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Viola palustris var. palustris

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a rhizome, with stolons, plants 5-20 cm tall; stems lacking.
Basal leaves round to heart- or kidney-shaped, the blades 2-7 cm long, 2.5-3.5 cm wide, round-toothed, smooth, the stalks up to 15 cm long; stem leaves lacking; stipules lanceolate, entire.
Inflorescence of single, axillary flowers; petals 5, white to lavender, the lower petal 10-13 mm long including the 2-to 4-mm long pouched spur, the lower 3 purple-pencilled and more or less tinged with lilac, the lateral pair sparsely or not bearded; sepals 5, lanceolate, with earlike lobes at the base; style heads smooth.
Capsules, smooth, 6-7 mm long; dark brown.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet streambanks, meadows, swamps, fens and woodlands from the lowland to subalpine zones; common throughout BC except the extreme NE; N to NT, E to NF and S to ME, NY, SD, WY, UT, NV and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Viola palustris

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 881 1930
Slope Gradient (%) 0 4 118
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 313 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 6 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(1), BWBS(12), CDF(7), CWH(114), ESSF(79), ICH(91), IDF(8), MH(10), MS(15), SBPS(8), SBS(109), SWB(6)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar forb (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on wet to very wet soils within boreal, wet temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Scattered in non-forested, semi-terrestrial communities and open-canopy forests on water-collecting sites (organic soils). Characteristic of wetlands.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References