Species of the Month - April 2015

Marsh Violet

Viola palustris

The Marsh Violet or Bog Violet is common but often missed, as it flowers in April in the sort of places that botanists tend not to visit until later in the year.  It can be recognised by its leaves, once known, but the best way to get to know it initially is to find it in flower.

Viola palustris


Viola palustris

The Marsh Violet likes wet acid ground and so it is very much at home in most of Argyll.  It's found in damp moorland, marshes and rushy hillsides, also in wet woodland and alongside tracks.

Viola palustris


Viola palustris

The flowers are paler and smaller than those of the Dog Violet, which is the common spring-flowering violet that you see everywhere.  The top two petals of Marsh Violet are bent back and the anthers form an orange blob in the centre of the flower.  The spur at the back of the flower is much shorter than in Dog Violet and is usually the same colour as the rest of the flower (see pic above right).  Dog Violet has a long spur which is normally a whitish colour, paler than the rest of the flower.

Viola palustris and Viola riviniana

This photo shows Dog Violet and Marsh Violet growing together.  The Dog Violet is the one at the back, with a larger, darker flower and petals not bent back.  Its leaves are pointed, as seen along the bottom of the picture.  The large rounded leaves in the picture belong to Marsh Violet, as do the paler flowers.

The flowering stem of Marsh Violet has a couple of small bracts on it, but no leaves.  The plant's leaves and stems arise separately from a creeping rootstock.  Dog Violet does not have a creeping rootstock and its flowers arise on branches that also have leaves.

Viola palustris

A patch of Marsh Violet growing among Sphagnum in woodland.

Please send in your Marsh Violet sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your plant, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details   


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Mar 2015 - Hebrew Character
Feb 2015 - Tree Lungwort
Jan 2015 - Flute Lichen
Dec 2014 - Giant Willow Aphid
Nov 2014 - Golden Spindles
Oct 2014 - Crimson Waxcap
Sep 2014 - Four-spotted Orb Weaver

Aug 2014 - Pale Butterwort
Jul 2014 - Melancholy Thistle
Jun 2014 - Forester Moth
May 2014 - Large Red Damselfly

Apr 2014 - Hedgehog
Mar 2014 - Hairy Bittercress
Feb 2014 - Pale Brindled Beauty
Jan 2014 - Velvet Shank
Dec 2013 - Frilly-fruited Jelly Lichen
Nov 2013 - Whooper Swan
Oct 2013 - Ballerina Waxcap
Sep 2013 - Parrot Waxcap
Aug 2013 - Vapourer Moth

Jul 2013 - Emerald Damselfly
Jun 2013 - Globe Flower
May 2013 - Early Purple Orchid
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Mar 2013 - Oak Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort

Jan 2013 - Willow Jelly Button & Birch Jelly Button
Dec 2012 - Dice Lichen
Nov 2012 - Feathered Thorn
Oct 2012 - Dryad's Saddle
Sep 2012 - Tawny Grisette
Aug 2012 - Forest Bug
Jul 2012 - Grayling
Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
May 2012 - Small Copper
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Mar 2012 - March Moth
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry
Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.