Hairy violet

Viola hirta

  1. Wildlife
  2. Wildflowers
  3. Hairy violet

About

This perennial species is mainly found on chalk grassland but other habitats include the edges of woodland, roadsides and railway embankments and limestone pavement. Habitat loss has resulted in a declining distribution of this plant. It flowers early in the year and is the food plant of the dark green and high brown fritillary caterpillars.

How to identify

The hairy violet has heart-shaped leaves, there are 5 petals and fine hairs all over the plant give it a greyish appearance.

Where to find it

Fairly widespread throughout England, coastal areas of north and south Wales and southern Scotland

Habitats

When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June

How can people help

Hairy violet is mostly found on chalk downland - patchworks of chalk grassland, heath, scrub and ponds found on chalk hills. Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands, in particular, have been likened to a rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and downland nature reserves for the benefit of the rare wildlife they hold. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from scrub-cutting to stockwatching.

Species information

Common name
Hairy violet
Latin name
Viola hirta
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Up to 15cm tall
Conservation status
Common