Sweet Violet - Viola odorata


Low, somewhat hairy plant, with long rooting runners. Leaves oval, with a deeply heart shaped base in basal rosettes. Stipules blunt, usually fringed. Flowers, often dark violet with a short (6 mm) violet spur, but can be white with a violet spur, rarely pinkish. Fragrant.  Flower stalks with bracts in the middle.

Similar Species

Viola hirta, riviniana, reichenbachiana

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Sepals blunt, leaves (stalks and blades) and capsule hairy; hairs short (less than 0.3mm) and reflexed or apressed (i.e lying flat or bent down); plants with stolons or runners

Recording advice

This is not easy to identify from a photo of the flowers 'full-face'.  A side-on photos of the flower showing sepals, plus appressed/reflexed hairs on leaves and capsules, or notes should give confirmation of this; photos showing runners.   


Often in shaded places, woods, coppices, hedgerows. It is grown in gardens and often planted in churchyards; frequently escapes.

When to see it

February to May, but occasionally August and September.

Life History


UK Status

Fairly common throughout Britain except in the far north.

VC55 Status

Fairly common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 296 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current Checklist (Jeeves, 2011) it is Native and Locally Frequent

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

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