Species Factsheets

Viola selkirkii

Great-spurred Violet

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State Status: N
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Rare (PR)
Federal Status:

Global Rank: G5 rank interpretation
State Rank: S3S4

Did You Know?

The roots of many violet species can cause nausea and vomiting but they can be sauteed or steamed to add to things like soup.

Viola selkirkii


Great-spurred violet (Viola selkirkii) is a perennial herb that may grow about 7cm in height. The general appearance is similar to other species of violets, but the great-spurred violet can be distinguished by its smaller size, the heart shaped leaves (with a tendency for the basal lobes of some leaves to overlap) with minute hairs on the upper surface and few to no hairs on the lower surface, and the small violet-colored flowers with hairless lateral petals (contrasting with other species of violets that have a tuft of hairs, or “beard”, on the lateral petals), and rather prominent spur of the middle petal.

Rank Justification

Vulnerable in the nation or state due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation.


The great-spurred violet has been given a proposed status of Rare on the Plants of Special Concern in Pennsylvania list by the Pennsylvania Biological Survey and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, based on the relatively few historical and recent records that have been documented in the state. The plant is very easily overlooked due to its small size and similarity to more common species of violets.


The species inhabits moist woods throughout its range, particularly on calcareous or limestone substrates. In Pennsylvania, it grows in cool, moist woods, often on humusy or mossy rock outcrops and boulders.

Survey Dates

Flowers May - July


The historical range in Pennsylvania is concentrated in the northeastern counties and the species apparently reaches a southern border of its range in the state.


Conservation Status Map


Map Legend

NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.


  • NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
  • Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
  • Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
  • 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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