Dog Violet

March 9th, 2012

Latin:  Viola riviniana

Irish:  Sailchuach chon


Dog Violet, a native perennial, is the most common species of Violet in Ireland.  The garden Pansy, a close relative, is a hybrid involving a number of Violet species though usually not V. riviniana.  It is a small plant whose leaves, that are broadly oval or heart-shaped, grow in a rosette close to the ground.

The flowers are violet and appear in March or April.  They have 5 somewhat unequal petals – the lowest of which is elongated to form a short spur.  The colour of this spur is lilac rather than violet in this species.  It is believed that the name “dog violet” was given to this species because its flowers lack the beautiful scent found in those of other violet species.


In some cultures the dark purple colour of violets has linked them with sadness and death but it generally appears as a symbol of beauty in Irish legend.


They have also been regarded as a symbol of modesty, largely on account of their drooping flower heads – hence the expression “shrinking violet”.

They can be found at many locations at Castlewarden especially on shaded banks and in hedgerows but they are most readily observed on the bank on the right hand side of the avenue.

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