I have discussed violets previously. I am prepared to discuss them further today.
The post linked to above mentions that violets are thug plants. My brother in law refers to them as noxious weeds. I used to think he was overstating the situation, but I’m beginning to lean towards his way of thinking.
I do like to use violets as a bermuda grass/crab grass barrier. They really do work quite well in that job, as I mentioned in the previous posting. However, after a few years of having violets down at the base of rock retaining walls, I noticed that they seemed to be able to climb. I had no problem understanding how violets might be found down hill or down stream of where they were originally planted. After all, water runs down hill and will take things like seeds with it as it goes. We do get some heavy rains that wash things around.
I was mighty curious as to how the seeds were winding up in gardens that were over a foot higher than the spot where violets were established. A few days ago, I was out by my water faucet, yanking violets up wholesale in an attempt to establish the fiction that I was in control of the area. I happened across a violet that had a seed pod that was ripe and as I touched it it burst open and flung the seeds within about with abandon.
It was an “Aha!” moment, to be sure.
I don’t suppose I have lost my “scientific” roots since I worked in the Hydrocarbon Lab of the Institute of Marine Sciences. I decided to perform a little experiment, and brought a few almost ripened violet seed pods in the house and put them on my desk on a piece of typing paper. (Notice how we still refer to it as typing paper even though the typewriter is the mastodon of word processors, just like we talk about dialing a phone when they haven’t had actual rotary dials for decades.)
The next morning, I discovered that the seed pod had burst open as I expected, and strewn seeds all over my desk and beyond. I realized that the 8 1/2″x11″ paper was not big enough for my experimental purposes. So I got out a roll of white paper and set my experiment up again with a larger field for the seeds to scatter on. I suppose if I wanted a truly conclusive result, I would have to use a flannel sheet or something that does not allow the violet seeds (which are very round a shiny) to roll any distance after they land.
This morning, a seed pod had burst open. So I got my yard stick out and proceeded to measure how far the pod, which is about 3/8″ long, could throw its contents.
There were 35 seeds in the pod. The closest ones to the pod (there were three) did not fly any distance, but rolled out next to the pod. They traveled 1/4″. The rest of them distributed themselves all over the paper in an almost perfect circular pattern that began 5 1/4 inches away from the pod and ended 29 inches away.
And that, my friends, is how violets can travel uphill, qualifying them as empire builders as well as thugs.