Viola reichenbachiana   Early Dog-violet C DD N

Viola reichenbachiana whole Viola reichenbachiana side

Named after Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach who specialised in the study of Orchids around the mid 19th century, this is a very early flowering violet like Viola hirta. The first one is usually being Viola odorata (Sweet Violet). Viola odorata has quite different shaped leaves and distinctive blunt sepals which distinguish it easily from the Dog Violets (I can never smell the scent which it is supposed to have). Distinguishing Viola reichenbachiana (Early Dog-violet) from the commonest violet: Viola riviniana (Common Dog-violet) is more difficult because the Common Dog-violet is very variable in appearance and time of flowering.

The best way is first to seek this violet as early as possible in spring. Although Viola riviniana can flower early, Viola reichenbachiana will always be even earlier by a few weeks. Having found your possible Early Dog-violet, look at the spur which should be quite dark blue or purple (darker than the petals) then look at the sepals. The sepals are pointed in both violets but at the top there are two little extra bits pointing backwards often called sepal appendages. In Viola riviniana these are very pronounced but in Viola reichenbachiana they are small. There are other distinctions with the stipules but you can't always find these on early flowering plants. The one thing which you can't use to distinguish these species is the flower itself - both Viola riviniana and Viola reichenbachiana look too similar and vary a quite a bit anyway.

Viola reichenbachiana is common in England but seems to halt at Hadrian's wall for there is very little in Scotland. In Wales it is found near the border with England but not too much in the west. In Ireland it is scattered over the whole Ireland.

LHS: Coed Cilygroeslwyd, North Wales 29th March 2006 RHS: Warburton's Wood, Cheshire 14th April 2006

Added on March 17th 2005, updated 24th February 2012, updated 18th Nov 2014

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