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Fen Violet

Viola persicifolia

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Violaceae (Violet)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Fens, grassland, riverbanks, waterside, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Pale bluish-white or yellowish-white flowers. Similar to Heath Dog Violet (Viola canina) but those flowers are darker. Roundish petals and a short green spur.
The fruit is a 3-parted capsule.
Narrowly heart-shaped or triangular leaves.
Other Names:
Meadow Violet, Narrow-leaved Violet.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Viola persicifolia is a species of violet that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a small perennial herb that typically grows to be about 15 cm tall. The leaves are green and smooth, and the flowers are blue or violet. It typically grows in moist, shaded areas and is often found in woodlands or along stream banks. It is also known as the meadow violet or the narrow-leaved violet.


Fen Violet (Viola persicifolia) is a beautiful and versatile species of wild violet that grows in various habitats, including fens, bogs, and wet meadows. This species is native to Europe and Asia, but it has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, where it is now widely cultivated and enjoyed for its delicate, fragrant flowers and attractive foliage.

Fen Violet has a low-growing, spreading habit that makes it an excellent groundcover for moist or wet areas in the garden. Its leaves are a bright green color, with a heart-shaped or kidney-shaped form, and they are covered in fine hairs. In spring, the plant produces clusters of delicate, five-petaled flowers that range in color from pale to deep blue-violet, depending on the cultivar. These flowers are highly fragrant, and they are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

In addition to its ornamental value, Fen Violet is also a valuable food source for wildlife. Its leaves are a good source of vitamins and minerals for many species of birds and insects, and its seeds are an important food source for some bird species. Additionally, the plant's root system helps to prevent soil erosion and improve water quality in wetland habitats.

Fen Violet is easy to grow and care for, and it is a great choice for gardeners who want to add a touch of beauty and fragrance to their gardens while also supporting local wildlife. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade, although it can tolerate a bit of morning sun. The plant can be propagated by dividing the roots in spring or by planting seeds in the fall.

Fen Violet is a lovely and versatile plant that is well-suited to a wide range of garden styles and habitats. Whether you are looking to add some delicate color and fragrance to your garden, or you are looking for a plant that will help to support local wildlife, Fen Violet is a great choice to consider.

Fen Violet is also an excellent choice for rock gardens, woodland gardens, or as an accent in mixed borders. It can be planted in masses for a bold display of blue-violet flowers, or used as a filler between larger plants for a more subtle effect. The plant can also be used in naturalistic settings, where it can help to create a lush and vibrant understory.

When planting Fen Violet, it is important to choose a location that is well-drained and moist, as the plant does not tolerate dry soils. The plant can be mulched with leaves or bark to help conserve moisture and keep the soil cool in summer. Fen Violet is not particularly fussy about soil type, but it does prefer a soil that is rich in organic matter.

One of the most interesting and unique aspects of Fen Violet is its ability to adapt to its environment. In wet habitats, the plant will form large colonies and spread aggressively, creating a dense groundcover. In drier habitats, the plant will remain more compact and slow-spreading, and its leaves and stems may be slightly more leathery. This adaptability makes Fen Violet a great choice for gardeners who want to create a dynamic and changing landscape that evolves over time.

In terms of care, Fen Violet is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal attention. It can be left undisturbed for several years, as it will self-seed and spread to fill in bare spots. However, if the plant becomes too thick or invasive, it can be thinned or divided in spring or fall. Pruning is not necessary, but deadheading the flowers after they have faded will help to keep the plant looking its best.

Overall, Fen Violet is a delightful and hardy plant that offers a multitude of benefits to both gardeners and wildlife. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, Fen Violet is an excellent choice to consider for your next gardening project.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, Fen Violet also has a rich history and cultural significance. For centuries, wild violets have been associated with love, innocence, and purity, and they have been used in traditional folklore, poetry, and songs to express these themes. In many cultures, violets were also used for medicinal purposes, and their fragrant flowers and leaves were steeped in teas and tonics to soothe the soul and cure ailments.

Today, Fen Violet continues to be a popular ornamental plant, and it is widely cultivated and hybridized to produce new and exciting cultivars. There are now many different varieties of Fen Violet available, with varying flower colors, sizes, and growth habits, making it easy for gardeners to choose the perfect plant for their garden.

Another great aspect of Fen Violet is its versatility and ease of use in the garden. The plant can be used in a variety of ways, from creating a stunning display of blue-violet flowers in a woodland garden, to filling in gaps in a rock garden, to providing a fragrant groundcover in a moist area. Fen Violet is also a great choice for container gardening, as its compact habit and delicate flowers make it an attractive centerpiece for patio pots and window boxes.

In conclusion, Fen Violet is a beautiful, versatile, and meaningful plant that offers numerous benefits to gardeners and wildlife alike.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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