Viola pedunculata. Torrey and A. Gray

Viola pedunculata Torrey and A. Gray, (sometimes abbreviated to T. & G.)

Kim’s unedited notes. Illustrations: 5 photographs of Viola pedunculata and 2 drawings

Viola pedunculata, Livermore, CA (May 1999)

John Torrey, 1796-1873 & Asa Gray 1810-1888.

Viola pedunculata. US Berkley Bot Gdn. (April 1994)

‘Pedunculata’ means with a peduncle.

Sect. Chamaemelanium subsect. Nuttallianae [Marcussen, 2011].

See Abrams L. R. & R.S. Ferris. An Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States: Geraniaceae to Scropulariaceae, Vol. 3. 1951. Stanford University Press.

re V. pedunculata: All the area east and southeast of Livermore where I collected V. pedunculata is in the Great Valley where the soil is derived from marine sedimentary rocks.

dormant in late summer

SFO Wildflower CD: grasslands and open oak woodlands but much of habitat in SFO region has been destroyed. San Bruno Mountain and Mines Road. Dormant to deep-seated fleshy roots in summer and fall. (Wildflowers of the San Francisco Bay Area: An interactive guide. Multimedia CD – 1998)

During the rainy season it sends many long runners up from these root-stocks, forming dense mats crowded with big, intensely yellow flowers in the shape of those of a large-flowered V. lutea. … Although the species has a rather wide range of distribution in California, there is not much variation in it, perhaps owing to its low chromosome number. … The chromosomes are rather large.’

Viola pedunculata. (April 1999)


Viola pedunculata, late afternoon light. Livermore, CA (May 1999)

from Jepson on-line: V. pedunculata Torr. & A. Gray


Plant 5–39 cm

Stem generally decumbent to erect from deep, spongy rhizome with many fleshy roots, branched, thin, puberulent

Leaves cauline, simple; petiole 20–65 mm; blade 10–55 mm, deltate-ovate to cordate, crenate to serrate, glabrous to hairy, tip acute to obtuse

Inflorescence: peduncle < 200 mm

Flower: petals orange-yellow, lowest (including spur) 10–20 mm, lower 3 veined dark brown, lateral 2 bearded, upper 2 red-brown outside; style 2.9 mm

Fruit 5–11 mm, glabrous

Chromosomes: n=6; 2n=2x=12

Ecology: Open, grassy slopes, hillsides, chaparral, oak woodlands

Elevation: 0–1000 m.

Bioregional distribution: Outer North Coast Ranges, Inner North Coast Ranges, San Francisco Bay Area, Central Western California, Southwestern California

Distribution outside California: n Baja California [as far north as Humboldt Redwoods State Park, not far south of Crescent City!!]

Cleistogamous flowers 0. Plants from SCoRI (w San Benito Co.) with leaves smaller, thinner, narrower, petals yellow, style ± 2 mm have been called subsp. tenuifolia M.S. Baker & J.C. Clausen

SFO Wildflowers CD: grasslands and open oak woodlands but much of habit in SFO region has been destroyed, San Bruno Mts and Mines Road. Dormant to deep-seated fleshy roots in summer and fall.

Germinates very quickly, relative to all other species, 3-4 weeks in fridge. It was the first of 100 packets of viola seeds of different species to germinate. Very large seeds. Not accustomed to a long, cold winter.

Viola pedunculata (MCL)

Kim to Theresa Culley:

Have you ever tested the pH of soil where V. pedunculata grows?

Theresa: I have no idea about V. pedunculata, although that would be something that I can easily find out.

Incidentally, I can’t remember if I told you before, but I had a strange thing happen with my V. pedunculata seeds. They all germinated just fine and the seedlings grew strong for about 3 weeks. Then suddenly they just all started dying. At first I thought it was damp-off, but I had V. pubescens seedlings growing at the same time and they were fine. Plus, there was no evidence of damp-off when I looked closer. I also tried varying the watering and light levels for different groups of V. pedunculata seedlings, but it did not change things. My hunch at this point is that V. pedunculata may be dependent on mycorrhizal fungi and just stops growing if it is not available. I’m thinking that when I go to CA next spring, I’ll grab a few soil samples for inoculations.


Viola pedunculata has huge orange-yellow flowers that carpet the hills in some areas. Its many stems grow quite tall in the surrounding grasslands to form attractive clumps. No, this plant does not form clumps in the wild, it grows up through the surrounding grasses, but it does form nice rounded clumps in cultivation. It can be very spectacular on the hillsides all the same. The flowers are unusually large and gaudy, and have a very
noticeable black center. from the Chaparral .

Mission Peak, west of Fremont, (info from a friend of Tom’s), DeLorme Map, Northern California, p.105, D5.

Viola pedunculata, back of flowers. Alameda Co, CA (April 1994)

Apr 1999, location  Jepson Prairie Preserve (Solano County, California, US)

Apr 12, 1957, location  Hastings Natural History Reservation (Monterey County, California, US)

Mar 9, 2007, location  Calero Reservoir (Santa Clara County, California, US)
From the 1999 Catalogue of Ron Ratko:

Pachco Pass, Diablo Range, Merced Co., CA. 1,400 ft. The small patches of yellow, brightening the grassy hillsides and oak woodlands in early spring can be attributed to this viola, appropriately named johnny-jump-up. The 1”, bright orange-yellow flowers with red-brown reverses to the upper petals and fine dark brown pencilling on the lower ones cover the compact spreading mounds of deep green deltoid leaves. Always growing in heavy clay soils with grasses. Mature seeds black, 3.3 x 2.0 mm.


Also, Joseph D. Grant County Park, near call box, elev. 600 m, 14 April. [where we found a bench on the top of the hill], on road to V. quercetorum. DeLorme Map of northern California, p.116, 1B.

[3 miles west of Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton Road, Mt. Hamilton Range, Santa Clara CO, 14 April, 1999.

Telsa Road, east of Livermore [to Telsa], DeLorme Map of northern California, p. 106, 2C, 13 April, 1999. East of the Mission Peak site above.

All the area east and southeast of Livermore is in the Great Valley where the soil is derived from marine sedimentary rocks. But these are hills, and may be foothills of something else, so be careful. Try learning more about geology of southern California.

TM (Thomas Marcussen) Aug 07:

Looking through my Word file of V. pedunculata I found these comments:

All the area east and southeast of Livermore [where I collected V. pedunculata] is in the Great Valley where the soil is derived from marine sedimentary rocks.

Serpentinite produces alkaline soils.

In the JEPS herbarium there were many occurrences also of V. douglasii in the area.


I was introduced to the East Bay Garden by Adele and Lewis Lawyer, who were very generous and enthusiastic introducing me to viola sites around the Bay area, and southeast to the locations around Livermore.


TM, 19 Aug, 07:

You mentioned in your previous email that you always thought that V. douglasii and V. pedunculata were closely related. I agree, and as far as I can see their main distinction is the leaf shape, while the geophytic habit, absence of CL flowers and flower colour are basically the same, and even the distribution. I would not be surprised either if V. pedunculata grouped within the “core” polyploid Chrysanthae-Nuttallianae cluster.

Clearly leaf shape is highly modifiable in this group (and species like V. tripartita and V. lobata are even polymorphic) and I do not trust that it actually delimits species groups.


TM, 13 Jan 2010:

Davidse’s (see paper in file) points make sense in many respects.  Clausen often did not take the time to study things in detail and he sometimes made strange generalisations.  In my opinion his delimitation of Purpureae and Pedunculatae from Nuttallianae is one of those.  Also Ballard et al 1998 concluded with a widely defined Nuttallianae, not least when hybridisation data were considered.  My data show that it is even more complex, and that nearly all the Chamaemelanium subsections are non-monophyletic.

Viola pedunculata Callippe Fritillary

Comstock’s Fritillary, Speyeria callipe comstockii

Distribution: This beautiful butterfly formerly inhabited both the foothills and higher mountains of Orange County. The drier climate and development of many foothill areas has pushed callippe out of most of the old low-elevation localities. James Mori, however, reports that they were common in the San Joaquin Hills in about 1962 during a particularly a rainy year. Comstock’s Fritillary may still occur in these coastal foothills, but today is common only in the Santa Ana Mountains. Sandra Huwe reported hundreds on Elsinore Peak 5/20/00, and the illustrated specimen is from that population.

Flight Period: One brood, flying in May at lowland elevations and usually from mid-June to mid-July in the Santa Ana Mountains. The butterfly emerged exceptionally early in 1974 as it was observed in Riverside County near Highway 74 on May 8 by Norman Nakanishi and on May 11 at Santiago Peak by Gary Felton. Males generally begin emerging before females.

Larval Foodplants: Viola pedunculata (Johnny Jump-Up) is recorded and another violet species (Viola quercetorum) is also suspected as a larval foodplant. Both of these violet species and a third (Viola purpurea) are of occasional occurrence in moist places in the foothills and mountains of Orange County (Boughey, 1968). I most often encounter violets in the Santa Ana Mountains on sheltered, rocky, outcroppings. A good stand of Viola pedunculata occurs along the southern edge of Yaeger Mesa, although I have never been to the area at the appropriate time of year to see if Comstock’s Fritillary flies there. I suspect that pedunculata is utilized by low-elevation populations, while purpurea, and perhaps quercetorum is utilized by populations in the higher elevations of the Santa Ana Mountains.


Violets are extremely dependent on moisture and rainfall, and thus fritillary populations also tend to fluctuate in numbers. The drying trend which was evident in southern California during ~1950-1980 had a severe effect on many southern California fritillary populations.

Fritillaries survive through the late summer, fall, and winter, not as an egg or pupa (the common aestivating stages in many butterfly species), but as a first-stage larva. The selective advantage of this is still a mystery to lepidopterists, since one would expect the larva to be less resistant to environmental extremes than the egg or perhaps the adult.

Text from Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp. Updated by Peter Bryant.



Callippe Fritillary (Speyeria callippe [Boisduval])

Wing span: 2 – 2 1/2 inches (5 – 6.4 cm).

Identification: Upperside tawny to bright red-brown with dark, evenly-spaced markings. Underside has triangular silver submarginal spots with narrow brown edging; other spots large and usually silvered.

Life history: Males perch and patrol for females. Eggs are laid singly in litter near violets. Unfed first-stage caterpillars hibernate until spring, when they feed on violet leaves.

Flight: One brood from May-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Violets including Viola purpurea, V. pedunculata, V. beckwithii, V. douglasii, and V. nuttallii.

Adult food:

Habitat: Sagebrush, chaparral, dry woodland, prairie hills.

Range: Central British Columbia east to South Dakota and Manitoba, south to southern California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

Conservation: Subspecies callippe in California’s San Francisco Bay Area is threatened with extinction.

Speyeria callippe callippe has The Nature Conservancy rank of T1 – Critically imperiled because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences, or very few remaining individuals), or because of some factor of its biology making it especially vulnerable to extinction. (Critically endangered throughout its range).

Reference for information above is website: USGS Butterflies of N. America:

Viola pedunculata style (sketch)