|Hairy Violet, Viola hirta. High Elms Country Park, 13 March 2014.|
The flowers are inconspicuous unless there are several together, but they abound at the moment and are not hard to find. The Common Dog-violet and Early Dog-violet, not shown here, grow by woods and hedges and on grassy banks and verges. The Hairy Violet, shown above, likes chalky grassland. This one was on one of the orchid banks at High Elms. You can see the furry appearance of the leaf stems and the undersides of the leaves.
|Sweet Violet, Viola odorata. Fairlawne Estate, Shipbourne, 15 March 2014.|
Telling these four violets apart is tricky. There are even scentless forms of the Sweet Violet, so you can't just rule it out with a sniff. You have to compare a whole cluster of attributes: the shape of the sepals, the size of the little appendages at the back of the sepals, the shape and colour of the spur at the back of the flower, and a couple of other things too. Sometimes, though, it's obvious. White, sweet-scented flowers - and those large leaves - can only belong to one of the four species.