Our homestead award for first wildflower bloom of the spring goes to a Common Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea or Viola sororia), and I am not surprised. I first found this little violet several years ago. It has garnered the first bloom of the spring award every year since. The violet is growing out of a crack in the south-facing side of a large (small house sized) rock. Sun shines on the rock face and the rock retains the sun's warmth creating a microclimate that allows this particular violet to bloom a week or more ahead of its more conventionally located kin.
Viola papilionacea is a native perennial that grows throughout most of eastern and central North America. Both flowers and leaves are highly variable. Flowers can range from white, to blue, to deep purple. They can also be variegated. The taxonomy of the plant is also questionable and some authors place the plant as a variety of V. sororia. V. pranticola is another synonym. Finally, the Common Blue Violet can hybridize with at least four other species of Viola.