Water Violet

The beautiful Water Violet is very susceptible to water pollution

Latin name: Hottonia palustris

Description/identification

The Water Violet is not actually a Violet, but rather a species of Water Primrose. They are classified as submerged aquatic plants, because the stem and leaves are entirely under (or just floating on) the water surface, and only the flower spike sticks up above. The submerged leaves are comprised of multiple rosettes of soft feather-like fronds. These can be confused with the leaves of the invasive non-native Parrot’s Feather Myriophyllum aquaticum, but Parrot’s Feather has stiff leaf spikes which stick up above the water surface and the leaves are a blue-green colour, whilst Water Violet leaves are a lovely pale lime green and are limp once out of the water environment. The flower spikes of Water Violet can reach up to 80 cm in height, although they can be much shorter. The flowers are white or pale pink with a yellow centre (which looks very like a primrose), and can be seen from late spring – May to June.

Habitat

Water Violet can be found in ponds, ditches, and the slow flowing backwaters of some rivers.

Distribution and threats

Water Violet is widespread in the south-east of England but has undergone a significant decline in recent years and is now included on the Red Data List for England. Threats include habitat loss, drainage and poor management. The submerged nature of Water Violet make it very susceptible to water quality.