Monday, 19 October 2015

Heath Dog Violet at Lough Allua, West Cork.

Heath Dog Violet (Viola canina)
15th May 2015
South Shore, Lough Allua, West Cork, Ireland
Despite many hours searching Newmarket Heath I failed to find any Heath Dog Violets. They have decreased in numbers to the point where they are  gone from Cambridgeshire. Newmarket Heath was the last stronghold with many plants present twenty years ago but more recently just a few plants have been found on occasional years.

Not only rare, they are also quite hard to distinguish from the Common Dog Violet. 
This is complicated by two sub-species which give Heath Dog Violet varied features plus the ever present complications of hybrids with both Common (Viola riviniana) and Pale Dog Violet ( Viola lactea) .

Given the difficulty and variation this small group on the South Shore seems to fit with Heath Dog Violet. They were growing in the short grass about a meter in from the waters edge. Sepal appendages were large, even larger than Common Dog Violet and the spur colour was pale yellow-greenish without any violet tinge. Common Dog can have completely white spurs but the greenish tinge looks good for Heath.
Leaf shape also looked good with leaf base more squared off with less of the heart shaped base that Common Dog Violet would normally have.

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