Tag Archives: blue violets

What’s Growing In the Ravine?

Spring is slowly fighting its way into the Ozarks. The weather has warmed, but still has cold days and nights.

In spite of the challenges, wild plants are growing in the ravine. Actually they are growing all over, but the ravine is of special interest due to The Carduan Chronicles. I went out to see what’s growing.

rue anemone flower

Finding a rue anemone in bloom in the ravine was a surprise. They are lovely, but I don’t think they are not edible.

The Carduans will need to find plants to eat. As they are confined in the ravine, due to their size and distances out of the ravine, the plants growing there will be the selection they will be drawing from.

What’s growing in spite of wildly fluctuating temperatures? Lots of plants are putting out new growth. Many are ones I don’t recognize. Those I do recognize included galiums (bedstraws or cleavers), cinquefoil, wild strawberry, wild onion, two or three kinds of violets, toothwort, rue anemone and spicebush. There is a dandelion relative and several grasses growing in the ravine.

wild strawberry leaves

Wild Strawberry has small, edible fruits. The plant is easily identified by the three leaflets and hairy petioles. The fruits are hard to get as they are popular with many creatures. I need a picture of a ripe fruit and plan to cage a plant once it sets fruit so nothing makes the fruit disappear before I get a picture.

Other than nuts that fall out of the trees in the fall, the Carduans will not be eating the trees.

Thanks to “Botany In a Day” I have a few plants to taste test. It’s hard to describe how something tastes, if you have never tasted it.

violets are what's growing

The best violets for fresh eating are blue and white ones. Both the leaves and flowers are edible. This is the blue violet coming up as all the leaves grow up from the rootstock. White violet leaves look much the same, but the plant has a stem with leaves from it. I found the blue violet leaves mild and the white violet leaves a bit bitter.

I tried some violet leaves. The first one was from a blue violet. It wasn’t bad, kind of a tasty lettuce. The second was from a white violet. It was a bit bitter.

Spicebush buds and flowers are bitter. I’ve tried the leaves before and found them spicy and palatable.

wild onions is what's growing

These are not green onions. These are wild onions. They are edible. It’s easy to break off a leaf and eat it. The flavor is like a bite of regular onion and explodes in your mouth.

The fun ones are the wild onions. These little things look like miniature green onion tops. They don’t taste like that. Wild onions explode in the mouth like a bit of raw yellow onion.

Winter is giving up at the point I am in my writing. The Carduans are beginning to do some exploring. They want to know what’s growing in their ravine.

Now that I know some of the plants growing in the ravine, I know what the Carduans will find. And what they will try eating.

For more about the Ozarks in the spring, check out Exploring the Ozark Hills.

Confederate Violets

Violets are blooming everywhere lately. Johnny Jump Ups are on dry sunny slopes or pastures. Yellow violets are tucked into ravines. White violets are along the road and in the ravines.

Most numerous are the blue violets. They bloom in the lawn, on the hills, along the creek and in the ravines. I am used to seeing them in pale blue to vivid red purple.

purple common violet

This common violet is definitely not blue but rich purple. This color is more common in sunnier places.

Visiting the bluebells along the river I found another color. At first I thought this must be a new violet, one I hadn’t seen before.

This violet was big. Its petals were off white with purple veins and shading in the center. Yet its leaves looked like those of the blue violet.

blue common violet

Blue is the typical color of the common violet. It is so common that the others must be looked for.

My guidebooks made no mention of this lovely flower. Finally I found it on the Missouri Department of Conservation guidebook site. This special color of blue violet is called Confederate Violets.

For those who don’t know yet, my favorite site missouriplants.com has vanished. The man who started the site was killed by a car several years ago while on his bicycle. Evidently the domain name expired so the site vanished.

lavender common violet flower

Pale common violet flowers vary from light blue to lavender with the petals varying shades as well.

The Missouri Department of Conservation online guidebook is extensive. It is a bit confusing to use as there are so many ways to get picture lists of wildflowers and other plants. It’s at www.mdc.mo.gov with a link in the sidebar.

Since finding out about the wide range of colors and patterns found in blue violets, I’ve been noticing them more. Most are blue or, more properly blue-violet. Yet this blue can be harsh with white edges on the petals.

Still others are red purple. This is usually the harsher shade but without the white edging.

Other violets are pale lavender. These can have some light petals and darker lower petal or upper petals.

Confederate violets are striking flower

Confederate violets seem to be larger than most common violet flowers. The white with purple veins is very striking.

My favorites are the Confederate Violets. There is a large patch of them down along the river. They make me wish I kept a flower garden so I could move a few or better collect some seed purses to start my own.

Blue and white violets do make seed purses. They are oval and covered with soft hairs.

Common violets may be common. That doesn’t mean they are boring.