Fen Violet

Fen Violet is a rare plant of seasonally-wet fens 

Scientific name: Viola stagnina Kit. ex Schult 

Petr Filippov, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Description/identification 

Fen Violet is a pretty, low growing violet. The plants (‘tufts’ of leaves and flowers), grow at intervals, from a creeping rhizome to a height of 10-30cm. Fen Violet leaves are deep green, narrow and triangular. The flowers have broad pale, blue to purple, or pure white petals. Flowers can be seen from May to June. 

Habitat 

Fen Violet is a plant of wet, base-rich soils in fens and unimproved fen meadow, found on clay in Oxfordshire. Fen Violet thrives where surrounding vegetation is kept short by grazing. The seeds of Fen Violet can remain viable in the seed bank for many years and populations tend to disappear and reappear from different sites. 

Distribution and threats 

It is currently listed as Endangered in the Red list of vascular plants, and it is also included in the England Red List. Fen Violet is a priority species and a rare plant in Oxfordshire, and it is listed on Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In Great Britain it is confined to one site in Oxfordshire, and occasionally appears at one other site in the Cambridgeshire fens. Factors such as habitat loss, drainage and lack of management explain Fen Violet’s dramatic decline, this species having already been lost from Norfolk, Suffolk, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.