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    The exact identity of the Viola shown on this page has been the subject of considerable debate.  Intermountain Flora indicates that David Douglas first discovered a yellow Viola near the Columbia River in the early 1800s and Douglas named it Viola glareosa in Hooker's Flora Boreali-Americana. (Click the title to read.)  But Hooker also published Viola nuttallii variety major in Flora Boreali-Americana, following Frederick Pursh's nomenclature from 1814 when Pursh named and described Viola nuttallii from a specimen collected "on the banks of the Missouri" in 1811 by Thomas Nuttall. (Click for biographical information about Nuttall).

In 1899, Aven Nelson examined the specimens and named them V. vallicola, a named confirmed by Dorothy Fabijan in 1987 and accepted by numerous authors, including John Kartesz, the ultimate authority for names on this web site.  (See Kartesz's range maps below.)

Stanley Welsh author of A Utah Flora, points out that in the "strict sense" Viola nuttallii is found almost exclusively east of the Rockies, but he does not accept this "strict sense" and indicates that only V. nuttallii exists in Utah. 

William Weber indicates that both V. nuttallii and V. vallicola exist in western Colorado and that they are distinguished from each other as follows:

V. nuttallii: less that 5 centimeters tall with narrow leaf blades at least 3 times as long as wide and gradually narrowing to the petiole.  Low altitudes.

V. vallicola: can be as small as V. nuttallii but may be larger.  Leaf blades broader and often much larger, abruptly narrowed to the petiole.  Leaves less than 5 centimeters long and somewhat truncate at the base (Otherwise like V. nuttallii).  At higher altitudes than V. nuttallii.  

Viola nuttallii
Viola vallicolaSynonym: Viola nuttallii. (Yellow Violet)
Violaceae (Violet Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands, woodlands. Spring, summer.
Mud Spring Trail west of Cortez, May 8, 2010.

This lovely miniature is not very common at all in the Four Corners area, and, in fact, the pictured plants are probably county records for Montezuma County, Colorado.  Plants are typically two to ten inches tall and are highly variable in leaf shape and hairiness.

Viola nuttallii

Viola vallicolaSynonym: Viola nuttallii. (Yellow Violet)
Violaceae (Violet Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands, woodlands. Spring, summer.
Mud Spring Trail west of Cortez, May 8, 2010.

Some leaves are widest at about their mid-point and then gradually taper to the petiole; others are more abruptly truncated at the base above the petiole.

Viola nuttallii
Viola vallicolaSynonym: Viola nuttallii. (Yellow Violet)
Violaceae (Violet Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands, woodlands. Spring, summer.
Mud Spring Trail west of Cortez, May 8, 2010.

Viola nuttallii

Viola vallicolaSynonym: Viola nuttallii. (Yellow Violet)
Violaceae (Violet Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands, woodlands. Spring, summer.
Mud Spring Trail west of Cortez, May 8, 2010.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Viola nuttallii

Range map for Viola nuttallii  

Viola vallicola

Range map for Viola vallicola