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Pale dog-violet

(Viola lactea)

Pale dog violet © TeunSpaans under Creative Commons BY-SA licence

Pale dog violet © TeunSpaans under Creative Commons BY-SA licence


A milky-flowered member of the violet family known in French as la Violette blanche (the white violet).

In fact the second part of its scientific name - lactea - means 'milky' in Latin. It has creeping stems originating from a rosette of leaves about its base.

Distribution

A species of humid heathland and grass heath in southern England, largely confined to key heathland districts including the Wealden and Thames Basin heaths, the New Forest and Dorset heaths, and through much of Devon and Cornwall (though rarely ever commonly).

Habitat

Pale dog-violet is a species of humid heathland and grass heath (including the Culm grasslands), favouring areas with short vegetation and considerable bare ground created by burning, grazing or incidental disturbance such as rutting, turf cutting etc.

Status

Classified as ‘Vulnerable’ and is included as a species “of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity” under Sections 41 (England) and 42 (Wales) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

Key threats

The species’ greatest threat comes from the cessation of traditional management practices, notably winter swaling (burning of dead grass and dwarf shrubs) and traditional stock grazing, ideally by cattle and/or ponies.

Best time to see

May and June whilst flowering.