Viola pedatifida
Prairie birdfoot violet
Image of Viola pedatifida

Photo by Brad Slaughter 

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Key Characteristics

Low forb of mesic prairies; rosettes with dissected leaves divided almost to the base into three primary lobes, those further divided into 2-4 linear segments; flowers violet, arising on leafless stalkless, with the lower three petals bearded on the inside near the base; the stamens not protruding as in the common birdfoot violet (V. pedata).

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Joseph11980
Distribution map for Viola pedatifida

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Prairie birdfoot violet is found in grass-dominated clearings on thin loam over limestone in northern Michigan and in rich, mesic, blacksoil prairies in southern Michigan. Many mesic prairie now consist of only tiny remnants along roads and railroads, most of which are highly degraded and weedy.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Big bluestem, little bluestem, cordgrass, prairie coreopsis, wild geranium, pale-leaved sunflower, false boneset, smooth sumac, rosin weed, yellow-pimpernel, hoary vervain, prairie violet, and golden alexanders. In alvar, it may be found with poverty grass, ox-eye daisy, painted cup, blazing star, common milkweed, prairie cinquefoil, wild bergamot, and Indian paintbrush.


This species benefits from protection of habitat and natural disturbance regimes. This species likely requires natural disturbances associated with prairie habitat such as fire or brush removal to prevent woody plant succession. Significant increases in vegetative and reproductive vigor have been observed following early spring and fall burns; late spring burns and summer can damage plants. Much of the habitat has been lost or severely degraded. Many prairie remnants are vulnerable to common right-of-way maintenance activities such as mowing, herbiciding, and bulldozing.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 22, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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