Marsh Violet (Viola palustris)

The Marsh Violet or Bog Violet is common but often missed, as it flowers in April in the sort of places that botanists tend not to visit until later in the year.  It can be recognised by its leaves, once known, but the best way to get to know it initially is to find it in flower.

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The Marsh Violet likes wet acid ground and so it is very much at home in most of Argyll.  It’s found in damp moorland, marshes and rushy hillsides, also in wet woodland and alongside tracks.

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The flowers are paler and smaller than those of the Dog Violet, which is the common spring-flowering violet that you see everywhere.  The top two petals of Marsh Violet are bent back and the anthers form an orange blob in the centre of the flower.  The spur at the back of the flower is much shorter than in Dog Violet and is usually the same colour as the rest of the flower (see pic above right).  Dog Violet has a long spur which is normally a whitish colour, paler than the rest of the flower.


This photo shows Dog Violet and Marsh Violet growing together.  The Dog Violet is the one at the back, with a larger, darker flower and petals not bent back.  Its leaves are pointed, as seen along the bottom of the picture.  The large rounded leaves in the picture belong to Marsh Violet, as do the paler flowers.

The flowering stem of Marsh Violet has a couple of small bracts on it, but no leaves.  The plant’s leaves and stems arise separately from a creeping rootstock.  Dog Violet does not have a creeping rootstock and its flowers arise on branches that also have leaves.


Please send in your Marsh Violet sightings using the form below, or email with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your plant, please send a photo to, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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By filling in this form you consent to your record being passed on to the appropriate recording scheme.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.

All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer except where stated.