Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) — ID Guide

Another beautiful sign of Spring, although you may have to look a little closer to find it! This week we’re going to be looking at the wonderful common dog-violet (Viola riviniana). This species generally forms small clumps of dainty violet/blue/purple flowers.

Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy
Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy

The flowers themselves are on slender drooping stalks, with five petals ranging from blue to purple in colour. The lower middle lip has dark veins which leads into the flower where the petal colour changes to white. It’s thought that the veins on the lower lip help the plant get pollinated by bumblebees.

The Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) feeding on Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy
The Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) feeding on Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy

One of the most distinguishing features of common dog-violet is the notched, pale spur behind the petals. Its main confusion species early dog-violet (Viola reichenbachiana) has a dark purple spur behind the petals. However due to hybridisation and plants in general not sticking to the rulebooks the spur in common-dog violet can also sometimes be dark. Regardless, a notched, pale spur is still a decent identifying feature.

The characteristic pale spur of Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy
The characteristic pale spur of Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy
Pale spur of Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana), you can just about see the notch along the apex of the spur. – Oisín Duffy
Pale spur of Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana), you can just about see the notch along the apex of the spur. – Oisín Duffy

The leaves of the species are heart-shaped with a toothed edge and glossy green in colour.

As mentioned above you may have to do a little more searching for violets, but nothing ridiculous, they are common in woodlands and even hedgerows.

Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy
Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana) – Oisín Duffy

Remember if you find the plant and you’re happy with the identification, you can submit the record to the National Biodiversity Data Centre who with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland are currently running a Spring Flowers Project

Remember if you have any ideas for future posts or if you want help with identification you can ask me on Twitter @OshDuffy.

Oisín Duffy
About Oisín Duffy 23 Articles
Oisín Duffy is an ecologist and environmental educator with a special interest in the Flora of Ireland and Pollinators. He is the photographer and co-author of Biodiversity Ireland’s identification guide on “Trees and Shrubs”. He has a BA from NUIG and an MSc from NUIG and UL. Oisín is an active biological recorder, and current Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Vice-county recorder for East Donegal (H34) and participates in a number of recording schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), Bat Conservation Ireland (BCI) and others. In 2016, Oisín worked in conjunction with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to develop a plant monitoring scheme for Ireland. During the Summer of 2016, he toured Ireland giving workshops for the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. His most recent work has been as a photographer and author of the “Wildflowers in South Armagh”.

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