Viola species - confusing latin names

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hello Janet,

First of all, welcome to NARGS Forum!  Coincidentally, a similar discussion on this violet is going on in a FaceBook plant group.  You bring up good points; I might need to draw a flow chart to make all of this clear ;)

There do appear to be two variegated violets in question, both from Japan (most likely Korea and China too). The one I show above, has light green cordate to deltoid shaped leaves.  A second variegated violet has thicker reniform (rounded) leaves, that are purplish on the back.  Any and all names have been applied to both.  It's also been said that the two will hybridize and create all sorts of leaf forms.
Leaf shape reference: http://www.merriam-webster.com/art/dict/leaf.htm

So, there are two cultivar names for variegated violet kicking around, the aforementioned 'Syletta', and another one named Viola 'Silvia Hart', once sold by Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery, and still available commercially. Usually there is no species attribution, but sometimes it is listed as V. selkirkii 'Silvia Hart'.  I believe the discussion comes down to 3 species, V. grypoceras, V. selkirkii, and V. variegata. We can toss out V. coreana / koreana right here and now, because it is not a valid species.  Let's look at the three species:

Viola selkirkii:
Drawing and description of Viola selkirkii, Flora of China
This species is circumpolar (northern hemisphere)
http://www.efloras.org/object_page.aspx?object_id=94288&flora_id=2
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200014422

...this species occurs in North America too:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=VISE2
http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=VIOSEL
http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/bigphoto.asp?bigphoto=VIOSEL_RWF.jpg&t...

One of the synonyms of Viola selkirkii is Viola selkirkii var. variegata Nakai.  This should not be confused with an accepted species, Viola variegata Fisch., I'll get to that one later.

***I think we can eliminate V. selkirkii in this assessment, I do not believe it is related to either of the two variegated violets in question.

Viola grypoceras:
You are correct to point out the taller stems of Viola grypoceras, the drawing clearly shows that:
Drawing and description in FOC
http://www.efloras.org/object_page.aspx?object_id=94264&flora_id=2
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200014364

Viola grypoceras var. exilis (Miquel) Nakai
However, at the bottom of that species description in Flora of China, it is written "One of us (Ohba) prefers to treat plants with stems nearly procumbent or creeping as Viola grypoceras var. exilis (Miquel) Nakai". Aha!  In Ohwi's Flora of Japan, the description of Viola grypoceras var. exilis is "smaller plant with decumbent stems and depressedly deltoid leaves, truncate at the base"

The hairy branched stipules, seen in the drawing of V. grypoceras, should be able to help us validate the Viola species once back in growth this year.  I'm sticking with this ID for the time being.

Viola variegata:
Drawing and description in FOC:
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200014442
http://www.efloras.org/object_page.aspx?object_id=94297&flora_id=2
This species has short leaf petioles, leaves thick membranous, broadly ovate to orbicular, often white variegated on upper surface, purplish beneath, and obtusely toothed, describes the so-called "cyclamen leaf" violet to a tee.  Second aha moment, the plant going around as V. koreana (name of no botanical standing) is actually V. variegata. But don't forget, the pointy-leaf variegated violet also goes around under V. koreana and a bunch of other names.

Summary:  

1. Light green pointy-leaf variagated violet is Viola grypoceras var. exilis.

2. Dark green round-leaf variegated violet is Viola variegata.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Lori, good photo of that plant.  I do think these 2 different variegated violets are terribly mixed up in horticulture and names used interchangeably.  Also, one person in a FaceBook plant group mentioned having both, hard to keep them separate as they hybridize easily.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Novak
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-10-07

Mark, thank you! Just as your message appeared, I had be coming to the conclusion myself that the dark-leaved violets couldn't be V. grypoceras. I agree that the Viola variegata description is an excellent match for the dark-leaved plants. Come spring, I'll be taking that Flora of China description and giving my plants a thorough interrogation.

I'm not entirely convinced that Viola grypoceras is the correct species for the pale-leaved violet. In photos and in my memory, the pale-leaved plant is acaulescent, whereas V. grypoceras has stems that are 5-20 cm when the plant is in bloom. Even if the stems are decumbent, the plant should still be clearly distinguishable from an acaulescent plant. On the other hand, it's been several years since I've grown the pale-leaved violet, and maybe I never looked at it carefully enough. And maybe there's more than one pale-leaved variegated violet wandering through our gardens. Violets are such a vexing mess delightful challenge!

Janet
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, zone 7a
Webmaster for the Delaware Valley Chapter (dvcnargs.org)

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

I agree Janet, violets are such a vexing mess delightful challenge!  ;) :D

Yes, I too will give a more discerning look at my plants this year.  As I recall, the stems do extend horizontally along the ground for some small distance, thus not totally acaulescent, but I'll need to confirm that, could be my memory playing tricks on me again :)

Plants in hort might also be of hybrid origin.  I think of this when I look through one of my two treasured out of print books: "Some Natural Violet Hybrids of North America" by Ezra Brainerd, 205 pages, published in 1924, where it is documented that almost every North America violet species readily hybrids with just about every other species.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Tingley
Title: Member
Joined: 2013-01-07

This has been a real education about Viola taxonomy. Just for the record, the seed I just planted came to me from Jelitto under the name Viola coreana 'Syletta'. I'll have to examine the plants once they get large enough!

Southwest Nova Scotia, zone 6b or thereabouts

Novak
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-10-07

Mark, let us know if you reach a conclusion on the violet ID.

Janet
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, zone 7a
Webmaster for the Delaware Valley Chapter (dvcnargs.org)

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Janet wrote:

Mark, let us know if you reach a conclusion on the violet ID.

Will try to remember, but it won't be for another 3 months or more. :)

I must say, the sleuthing done so far is just following the synonymy trail.  Who know if the plant going under any of these names has any basis whatsoever with any of the names given to them.  Here's a very nice site showing Japanese violet species, each pic enlarges to a large clear photo, there are a number of variegated types, as well as some botanical names that are considered invalid, but they're all lovely little creatures. I would like to grow more of these, enjoy:

http://danwiz.com/Violets/Violets.php

There is also a PDF that can be downloaded, a partial photographic essay on japanese Viola species, the photos are high quality.  The PDF is a little over 3 MB in size.
http://danwiz.com/Pubs/Violets8.5x8.5_Sample.pdf

Oh by the way, unless any objection, I plan on renaming this topic to one devoted to Viola species.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Toole
Toole's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-07-02

McDonough wrote:

Oh by the way, unless any objection, I plan on renaming this topic to one devoted to Viola species.

Sounds like a good idea Mark.

Now just to add to the discussion  ;D  here's what i raised from seed many moons ago as Viola selkirkii ......

Cheers Dave

Invercargill
Bottom of the South Island New Zealand
Zone 8 maritime climate
1100mm,(40 in),rainfall p.a.
Nil snow cover

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Nice one Dave.  The more I look at these, the more confusing the whole thing gets. Seems like many Viola species have a variegate form.  Just found this on a Japanese site, 4th image down is listed as Viola selkirkii f. vareigata:
http://homepage2.nifty.com/ga-hanatozan/ga-hanatozan/p-114apoi-sindou/ap...

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I assumed all V selkirkii was variegated as I have never seen any all green ones ;) I have tried V. selkirkii and "koreana" several times from seed and been lucky a couple occasions but the plants are always damaged by slugs :-\

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

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