Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Plants of the Week: Appalachian Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) and Walter's Violet or prostrate (Viola walteri)

What's up with this? Two plants this week!  Yes and the reason for me doing this is because these work together well in forming a thicket, low-growing ground cover in the shade garden.  Neither of these species is highly showy and the flowers on both species are pretty small, less than 3/8".  But they both have outstanding attributes for shade gardens where you want a ground cover that will keep weeds out and have interesting foliage throughout the growing season.  They can even tolerate a bit of foot traffic. Both species spread via underground rhizomes and can be divided to make the patches expand more quickly.  The five-petaled, bright yellow buttercup flowers of the barren strawberry work well with the light purple to lavender flowers of Walter's violet.  They both like humus, rich soils and both like it extremely well drained.  They seem to tolerate a wide variety of soils, but in Kentucky Walter's violet (a rare species) grows on the tops of limestone cliffs and the barren strawberry grows in sandy, alluvial soils in eastern Kentucky.  As can be seen from the photos, the barren strawberry has trifoliate leaves whereas the violet has roundish leaves.  There is one cultivar of the violet, 'Silver gem' in the trade that has a silverish tint to the leaves with dark striations. Beware, the red fruits from the barren strawberry are not edible and this species should not be confused with the non-native mock strawberry, that weedy lawn plant that looks superficially similar. Neither the barren strawberry or prostrate violet grows much above 2 - 3" tall and some good companion plants might include green-and-gold, hepatica, and spring beauty.  Both are pretty drought tolerant, especially the violet, and both appear to be somewhat deer resistant.

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