Thursday, 23 March 2017

Viola riviniana subsp. minor

Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) is a familiar plant of woodland and hedge banks. It is normally of lanky appearance, with elongated flowering shoots. I found an extensive colony of this species today in North Lincolnshire, in open acid grassland and in a guise I was not anticipating. This was not helped by the botanical parts of my brain which are still groggy from a winter of under-use.

This dwarf form was well known to Victorian botanists but has fallen by the wayside in recent years, and goes by the name of subspecies minor (or sometimes var. minor). Whether it would stand close scrunity in cultivation trials is another matter, but based on the field evidence it merits re-evaluation and recording. Those like me who still value their copy of Keble-Martin's Concise British Flora will find it illustrated and some descriptive notes on its identification.

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