The Identification of Violets

One of the things you may commonly encounter on your one 'allowed' walk a day is wild violets of which at least 3 species (Sweet Violet, Common Dog Violet and Early Dog Violet) are now in full flower and fairly common.

They all look superficially similar but if you know what to look for are relatively easy to identify. I have the following plate saved on my phone and it is a really useful aid to identifying plants to species. The main things to concentrate on are the shape of the sepals and the colour and shape of the spur. Each species has a unique combination meaning it's difficut to go wrong. I have labelled some of my photos below which hopefully makes things clear.

Heath Dog Violet mainy flowers in April and Sand Pansy in May so hopefully we may be able to get out and see them when things get back to some sort of normality! 

'Under green hedges after the snow there do the dear little violets grow' 

Common Dog Violet

Early Dog Violet

Sweet Violet, purple form

Sweet Violet, white form (note the purple spur)

Early Dog Violet

Sweet Violet

Sand Pansy ssp curtisii (aka Breckland Pansy)

 Heath Dog Violet


  1. Wow! Excellent guide, Chris! I think we have three of those locally...

    1. Cheers David! You should be able to find the first 3 with any luck. Heath Dog Violet is in the dunes at Waxham (if we can ever get there!)