Wildflower Walks - Canada violet
Wildflower Walks - Canada violet

Viola canadensis

Description: Nearly 1-inch-wide flower has five white petals that are yellow at the base and purplish on the back; lower three petals have purple lines at the base, and outer petals are hairy at the base. Stands 4 to 16 inches tall with 1- to 3-inch heart-shaped leaves. Blooms May to June in moist woodlands. ("National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers n Western Region," by Richard Spellenberg)

Recently seen: Woods Gulch in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area.

The walk: To reach the Woods Gulch trailhead, drive about four miles north of Interstate 90 on Van Buren Street and Rattlesnake Drive. Just past the sign for the main Rattlesnake trailhead, turn right on Woods Gulch Road and follow it about half a mile to the trailhead. Follow the trail up the lush gulch on the south side of the creek. The trail crosses to the north side of the creek, switches back twice, then returns to the south side of the valley.

Look for Canada violet on the edge of the path from the trailhead up to the second creek crossing; beyond that, the trail leaves the creek bottom and rises into the forest. At 1 1/2 miles is a junction with trails that lead north to Blue Point and Sheep Mountain, and south to Mount Jumbo.

Justin Grigg, Missoulian