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Water Violet

Hottonia palustris

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Primulaceae (Primrose)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Ditches, gardens, mud, ponds, riverbanks, water, waterside.

Purple, 5 petals
Pale purple flowers with a yellow throat, approximately 2cm in size. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is a globular capsule which splits open to release its seeds.
An aquatic perennial plant with whorled deeply lobed (pinnate) leaves. The leaves are all submerged.
Other Names:
Featherfoil, Water Featherfoil, Water Gilliflower, Water Milfoil.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Hottonia palustris, also known as water violet or featherfoil, is a perennial aquatic plant native to Europe and Asia. It is typically found in shallow water or muddy banks of streams, ponds, and ditches. The plant has small violet flowers and feathery leaves that float on the water's surface. It is often used as an ornamental plant in water gardens, and can also be used in naturalized settings to help stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion.


Water Violet, scientifically known as Hottonia palustris, is a perennial aquatic plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Primulaceae family and is commonly found in stagnant or slow-flowing water bodies such as ponds, ditches, and marshlands.

The plant has delicate, feathery leaves that are a bright green color and grow to a height of about 20 cm. In the summer, Water Violet produces small white or pale blue flowers that bloom on thin stalks above the water surface. These flowers are an important food source for many species of insects, particularly bees and butterflies.

Water Violet is a hardy plant and can withstand a range of environmental conditions, including high levels of pollutants and low light levels. It is also tolerant of changes in water levels and is often found in areas that are prone to seasonal flooding. This adaptability makes Water Violet an ideal choice for gardeners who are looking to add some greenery to their pond or water feature.

One of the most notable features of Water Violet is its highly effective root system. The plant has an extensive network of roots that provide a supportive structure for the plant and absorb the necessary nutrients from the water. This root system also helps to reduce erosion and provide a habitat for other aquatic species, such as frogs, toads, and newts.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Water Violet is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions. It has been used to relieve headaches, reduce inflammation, and soothe digestive problems, among other things. However, it is important to note that the plant is not safe for human consumption and should only be used for medicinal purposes under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider.

Water Violet is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a range of benefits to its environment and to those who use it for medicinal purposes. Whether you are looking to add some greenery to your pond or are interested in the plant's traditional medicinal properties, Water Violet is definitely worth considering.

Water Violet is also known for its aesthetic appeal and is often used in ornamental gardening. The delicate leaves and dainty flowers add texture and color to water gardens and ponds, making it a popular choice for landscapers and garden enthusiasts alike.

In addition to its ornamental uses, Water Violet is also considered a valuable plant for wildlife conservation. The plant provides a habitat for a wide range of aquatic species, including insects, fish, and amphibians, and is also an important food source for many water birds, such as ducks and geese.

When planting Water Violet, it is important to keep a few things in mind. The plant prefers still or slow-moving water, so it is best to place it in a location that is protected from strong currents. It is also important to ensure that the water depth is not too deep, as the plant's roots need to be able to reach the bottom of the pond in order to absorb the necessary nutrients.

Another important factor to consider when planting Water Violet is the water quality. The plant is tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, but it is best to ensure that the water is not too polluted, as this can affect the plant's health. It is also important to monitor the pH levels of the water, as the plant prefers neutral to slightly acidic conditions.

In conclusion, Water Violet is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a range of benefits to its environment and to those who use it for ornamental and medicinal purposes.

In terms of maintenance, Water Violet is a relatively low-maintenance plant that does not require much care once established. However, it is important to monitor the water level and quality in the surrounding area to ensure that the plant is able to thrive. Regular testing of the water pH and nitrate levels can help prevent any issues that may arise.

It is also a good idea to remove any dead leaves or stems from the plant regularly to prevent decay and to maintain its appearance. Pruning should be done in the fall, after the flowering season has ended, to promote new growth in the spring.

Water Violet can be propagated through division or by seed. When dividing the plant, it is important to separate the root system into smaller sections, each with a portion of the stem and leaves. The divided plants should then be replanted in the desired location, making sure to space them out appropriately.

In conclusion, Water Violet is a beautiful and useful plant that offers a range of benefits to its environment, ornamental gardens, and those who use it for medicinal purposes. With its adaptability, low maintenance needs, and attractive appearance, it is no wonder that this plant has become a popular choice among gardeners and pond enthusiasts.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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