Question and Answer - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Question and Answer

Q. I love to walk our farm woods looking to find some of our native wildflowers. I was excited two years ago when I came across a violet that had yellow flowers. Went back last year to look in the area, but never found them again. I found in several nature books that violets will bloom white, yellow and the blue we usually see in early spring (woolly blue violet). I’m curious to know if you or anyone else has come across that color?

A. There are several yellow-flowered violets found in Indiana woodlands. The Downy Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens) typically has one basal leaf followed by a fuzzy stem reaching 5-16 inches tall and bearing both leaves and flowers. The Smooth Yellow Violet (Viola pensylvanica) has 1-5 basal leaves close to the ground and a smooth upright stem bearing heart-shaped leaves among the small flowers, often hiding the blooms from view. The lower petal of the smooth violet has purple stripes. The Round-leaved Yellow Violet (Viola rotundifolia) forms small clumps of rounded leaves close to the ground, followed by a leaf-less flowering stalk.

There is a beautifully illustrated coffee table-type book called Wildflowers of Indiana, by Maryrose and Fred Wampler and published by Indiana University Press. Maryrose’s original paintings are accompanied by Fred’s informative text identifying the various wildflowers as found in their natural habitat. This book is a must have for those that appreciate Indiana wildflowers! It is available online at

Q. A few years ago when attending our county’s garden walk, I saw a beautiful little tree covered in pink flowers. The owner said she knew it as a sweet pea tree. She said I could come back in the fall and dig one up for myself. I did go get one, and it died. I have since found them elsewhere and tried twice more to dig them up, but they do not survive. They seem to spread from the roots and are very difficult to dig up, even when very small because the roots are good size. I collected a few seeds from one last fall that I have not planted yet. Can you help tell me how to get one of these trees to grow, either from a transplant or from seed?

A. I’m not certain which plant you’re referring to, as I am not familiar with a tree by that name. But I’m wondering if this could be the roseacacia locust (Robinia hispida) with rose-colored, large, pea-type flowers and red bristly stems? Or perhaps it is the ‘Purple Robe’ selection of Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacdia) with dark rose-pink flowers on a compact tree? It’s difficult to advise how to propagate without knowing for sure what plant it is. If it is Roseacacia (often called bristly) locust, the plant tends to sucker (send up new stems from the roots) and these rooted suckers can be dug to form new clumps, but would be most successful either in early spring before the plants leaf out, or in early fall. These plants generally do not bear much seed, but, if produced, will have a very tough seed coat that needs to be soaked in hot water or nicked with sandpaper before sprouting.


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