51b. Viola purpurea Kellogg var. aurea (Kellogg) M. S. Baker ex Jepson, Fl. Calif. 2: 521. 1936.
Golden violet Golden violet
Viola aurea Kellogg, Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 2: 185, fig. 54. 1862; V. purpurea subsp. aurea (Kellogg) J. C. Clausen
Plants 4–12 cm. Stems erect or decumbent, mostly buried, not much elongated by end of season, canescent to tomentose. Leaves: basal: 1–6; petiole 4.6–9.5 cm, tomentose; blade purplish abaxially, gray adaxially, ovate, oblong, or orbiculate, 1.1–5 × 1–3.4 cm, base attenuate, often oblique, margins coarsely repand-dentate to irregularly crenate or shallowly and irregularly serrate, apex acute to obtuse, surfaces tomentose; cauline: petiole 1.5–5.5 cm, tomentose; blade ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 1.3–3.7 × 0.7–2 cm, length 0.8–1.4 times width, base attenuate, sometimes oblique, margins usually irregularly serrate, sometimes entire and undulate, apex usually acute, surfaces tomentose. Peduncles 2.4–10.5 cm, tomentose. Lowest petals 8–13 mm. Capsules 4–7 mm. Seeds medium brown, 2.5–2.9 mm. Flowering Apr–Jun. Pinyon-juniper woodland, sagebrush (Great Basin); 1000–2300 m; Calif., Nev.
M. S. Baker initially considered Viola aurea a subspecies of V. purpurea; he did not publish the transfer (J. Clausen 1964b). Later (1953), he considered it a distinct species. G. L. Stebbins et al. (1963) stated that chemical and morphological evidence supported the 1953 decision by Baker to maintain V. aurea as a species distinct from V. purpurea. Clausen (1964) disagreed with the conclusions of Stebbins et al. and (1964b) treated the taxon as V. purpurea subsp. aurea.
Flowers of var. aurea have been observed to close up in late afternoon, then fully reopen the following morning.