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Viola odorata - Sweet Violet

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Malpighiales - Family: Violaceae

Sweet Violet, Viola odorata

Sweet Violet Viola odorata is the only fragrant violet species found in Britain and Ireland. It is a perennial plant.

Close up picture of Viola odorata, Sweet Violet

Description

Viola odorata usually has blue-violet flowers or white flowers, but occasionally pink and even yellow forms occur. The sweet scent is therefore usually the best clue to its identification.

White form of Sweet Violet

A key feature of Sweet Violet plants is that the leaves and flower stems arise from one central point.

Pink form of Sweet Violet

The flowers are 10 to 18mm across; the long-stalked leaves are heart shaped, glossy and finely downy; and the stems, which are covered in downward-facing fine hairs, form long rooting runners, which are the main way in which these plants spread.

Sweet Violets on a bank in North wales

Sweet Violets on a tree-lined bank in early spring

Habitat

Sweet Violets grow in woods and on shaded banks under hedges; occasionally they can be found in scrubby waste land too. This species is most commonly found in areas of calcareous soils.

Blooming times

In Britain and Ireland, Sweet Violets produce flowers from February to May.

Etymology

The specific epithet odorata means 'with an odour', of course.

The photographs shown on this page were taken in England and in Wales during February, March and April.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Iris Millar.


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