Viola indica W.Becker, Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 20(2): 126 1906. ;
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Jammu & Kashmir (Kashmir), India (Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya), Pakistan (Chitral, Hazara) as per Catalogue of Life;
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Common name: Indian Violet • Hindi: बनफ़्शा Banafsha • Manipuri: Amo • Nepali: घट्टे घाँस Ghatte ghans
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Perennial herb, stoloniferous, about 5-12 cm tall. Roots rhizomatous, slender, short, stout and densely articulated. Stolons leafy and flowering up to 20 cm long. Stem absent or acaulescent. Leaves simple, basal, ovate-lanceolate to ovate-oblong, about 2-6 x 1.5-4 cm across, base cordate, margin crenate-serrate, apex deeply acute to subacuminate, glabrous to sparsely pubescent, stipules lanceolate-ovate, margin entire, apex acuminate, persistent, petiole slender, slightly winged above, up to 10 cm long. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, voilet or purplish with dark striations, fragrant, about 1.2-1.5 cm across, on long axillary pedicels, equal or longer than petioles, about 3-11 cm long, usually dimorphic (normal and cleistogamous flowers), bi-bracteolate about the middle, sepals 5, subequal, ovate-lanceolate to oblong, base usually auriculate, margins scarious or ciliate, persistent, about 4-6 x 1-2 mm across, petals 5, subequal, oblong-ovate, spreading, about 1.5 cm long, lateral ones smooth, not bearded at the base, lower petal largest, spurred basally, spur stout, slightly curved upwards, about 8 mm long. Stamens 5, hypogynous, filaments short, anthers 2 loculed. Ovary superior, ovoid-globose, sessile, 3 carpellary, glabrous, about 2 mm long, ovules many placentae parietal, style geniculate at base, stigma shortly beaked. Fruit capsule, not seen.

Rocky slopes of Himalayas, altitude 1300-2400 m.
Local Distribution: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh
(Attributions- Ganeshaiah, K. N., UAS, Bangalore, India.; Kailash, B. R., ATREE, Bangalore, India.; Royal Norwegian Embassy grants. Indian Bioresource Information Network (IBIN), Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi from India Biodiversity Portal)
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V. pilosa (V. serpens)? ABMAR01/05 : 3 posts by 2 authors. 14 images.

These flowers are very abundant in our area (much more so than V. canescens) and I find them scattered everywhere on the hill sides on my daily walks. I have been seeing them since January but they started coming out in good numbers around mid-February. These are larger lilac/lavender flowers with broad lower lip and a hint of contrasting bright yellow around the stigma. The runners are quite common and the stipules toothed. I have seen several capsules with sepals and stigma still attached. The leaves and stems are softly hairy but much less so than those of V. canescens.
Now the troubling part. While typing this message and looking at my data closely, I have managed to convince myself that I am not certain of its ID. Here is why:
Viola serpens is a synonym of Viola pilosa which is now the accepted name according to the Plant List;
A search for V. pilosa on FlowersofIndia.net shows a completely different flower but … blog shows the same flower as the one below under V. serpens. If they are synonyms then I am baffled yet again. There is more—flowersofindia gives V. serpens as a synonym also of V. indica (an unresolved name according to the Plant List), the photos of which look very similar to my sample, but my flowers are definitely not fragrant. It could be that V. pilosa has great variation in colour, size and shape and that my sample is V. pilosa aka V. serpens.
First here is a page from the Linnean Society Journal which lists V. canescens as white and much smaller that V. serpens. My flower matches the description of V. serpens.

I am not sure how to proceed from here. Is my sample V. pilosa or a hybrid or a local variation? Is it a variety of Viola canina? I am in great need of expert advice. Please help.


Thanks, …,
Viola serpens Wall. ex Ging. is a synonym of Viola pilosa Blume as per GRIN, Tropicos & The Plant List Ver. 1.1.
So you can rely on this.

FOI is not meant to give exact synonyms (as author citations were generally not mentioned though some efforts have been made lately in this regard)- It is better to consult efi site in this matter as it is regularly updated & re-looked whenever there are issues in this regard on the forum. Further there can be mistakes in species identifications- particularly the difficult ones.


Thank you … I agree that this genus is tricky and mistakes are bound to creep up. I am not even sure if my previous photo on efi is V. pilosa or not. I will keep trying.


As per keys in Flora of Pakistan:
13 (12) Stigma beaked. Ovary glabrous (14)
+ Stigma club shaped. Ovary hairy   2 Viola canescens
14 (13) Leaves acuminate. Sepals lanceolate, acute, ciliate-dentate   3 Viola pilosa
+ Leaves obtuse. Sepals ovate, obtuse, entire 1 Viola odorata
Keys as per Flora of Mizoram in efi thread:
Leaves broadly canescent, obtuse; flower pale-violet — Viola canescens
Leaves pilose, deltoid, acuminate; flowers white to bluish — Viola pilosa
Here stigma is beaked and not club shaped. Leaves are acuminate and not obtuse.

So, it should be Viola pilosa Blume


Also ovary is glabrous here (in V. pilosa) in comparison to hairy in V. canescens

Also stipule is ciliate here (in V. pilosa) in comparison to laciniate in V. canescens


Thank you very much for pursuing this again. I am also looking at the violas closely at the moment. I have a feeling that this species is neither V. pilosa nor V. canescens but some other species, closer to V. indica perhaps.

I will file more photos of the two species flowering here in a day or two. If we can find some more details on the nectar glands (or nectary appendages) for V. pilosa and V. canescens, that could be of great help.


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I have collected more evidence for this species and am nowhere closer to a proper ID. A few points:

1. The flowers are almost always violet. I am yet to see a lighter violet/white variety in this species.
2. The flowering starts in January and the flowers are seen till April.
3. The lower petal is the same size as the other petals and is always prominently visible.
4. The lateral petals have hairs at their base but the hairs are not conspicuous.
5. The top part of each stamen is deep yellow. The stamens cover the style for most of its length with only the stigma and a little of the style visible above the stamen ring.
6. The style is club shaped and beaked at the top. The ovary is only sparsely hairy.
7. The two nectary appendages are smooth and green.
8. The stipules are laciniate in my opinion. There may be a mix of of laciniate and toothed stipules on the same plant.
9. I am yet to discern an aroma from the flowers.
Based on these points and looking at the images, if you could suggest a possible match, I would be very grateful.

Attachments (17)


Thanks, …, for the wonderful images.
I will go for Viola pilosa only.

Stipules are quite variable.


Thank you … Sorry for the delay in replying. I was utilising my indoor stay to look up more Viola resources. I am still not fully convinced that this is Viola pilosa, especially if the other plants submitted by Saroj ji and Anurag are also the same species. Please let me explain my doubts:
1. FOC says that the anterior petal is the shortest in V. pilosa, in my samples it is not the case. In Anurag and Saroj ji’s posts, the anterior petal is visibly narrower and shorter than the rest. In this sense they have a better claim to be V. pilosa than my sample.
2. The style in both posts projects well beyond the stamens and does not look inflated. In my samples that is not the case.
3. The lateral sepals in both posts are conspicuously bearded at the base. In my samples, the hair is difficult to see without magnification.
4. The flower colour in both posts is closer to white, agreeing with the V. pilosa.  My samples are uniformly mauve and I have found only one close-to-white flower amongst hundreds of plants.

I hope you understand my concern regarding this viola. I am at it for close to five years and still not sure of its identity.


Thanks, …
I think there appears to be lot of variations in different aspects in this species.
Ultimately, we have to rely of key features as per Flora of Pakistan as below:
13 (12) Stigma beaked. Ovary glabrous (14)
+ Stigma club shaped. Ovary hairy 2 Viola canescens
14 (13) Leaves acuminate. Sepals lanceolate, acute, ciliate-dentate   3 Viola pilosa
+ Leaves obtuse. Sepals ovate, obtuse, entire 1 Viola odorata

I do not find any other species except Viola pilosa, closer to your post, after going through all the posts in efi site, FOI site and various other online resources.


Thank you …. Even if we follow the Flora of Pakistan the confusion remains.

FOP says: Flowers small, 3.5 cm long, resupinate, whitish blue. Sepals c. 5.0 x 1.5-2 mm, lanceolate, acute, ciliate-denticulate. Petals oblanceolate-obovate, obtuse, marked with dark coloured violet lines, bearded above with short hairs, the upper petal smaller than the rest and acute; spur obtuse, c. 6 mm long. Anthers distinct. Ovary ovate, c. 2.5 mm long, 1.5 mm broad, glabrous; style 3.5 mm long, beaked, beak directed downward.
Fl. Per.: April-August.
My samples are not whitish blue, the upper (same as anterior since the flower is resupinate) petal not smaller than the rest and acute and the flowering time not April to August. 

Please advise.


My suggestion was to go by Key features as given in the keys.

Regarding details, you know how confusing it is, as different sources state different things.


Thank you once again. I still think it would not hurt to keep the ID pending till we are more certain. Perhaps someone will shine a light on this some day.


Flora of China says Petals oblong-obovate, base narrower, lateral ones bearded, anterior one shorter, inside deep-colored veined;
Flora of Pakistan says Petals oblanceolate-obovate, obtuse, marked with dark coloured violet lines, bearded above with short hairs, the upper petal smaller than the rest and acute.
Your petals in the images come within the parameters (possibly will become more clear on dissection) and appears variable in the same plant and location.

So I still remain with Viola pilosa


I have seen that colour of petals is very much variable in Viola species.
Flora of China says Flowers purplish or white, medium-sized;
Flora of Pakistan says Flowers small, 3.5 cm long, resupinate, whitish blue.
You can also fine hairs on the inner portion of the lateral petals.
Flora of China says styles clavate, base slightly geniculate, gradually thickened upward; stigmas ± flat, not margined, very inconspicuously short beaked in front, with smaller stigma hole at tip of beak.
So to see this feature with naked eyes may be difficult and may vary depending upon the time period since opening of flowers and weathering state.

This species is quite variable can be seen from numerous synonyms and wide distribution as per Catalogue of Life


I agree … that Viola is a difficult genus. Anterior one shorter or the upper petal smaller than the rest and acute does not clearly apply to my samples. I have dissected the flower and looked at the petals, sepals, stamens, style and stipules closely.
FOP and FOC do not agree on all the features and that shows there is a confusion in the literature too. But since I do not know which one to prefer, I am unsure of our flower’s identity.
FOP says beak directed downward, while the beak on my sample is pointing upwards. It says style 3.5mm long, ours is barely 2mm long.
FOC says spur of anterior stamens angular and ca. 1.5mm long, our stamens have more cylindrical spurs (nectary appendages or glands) which are twice as long at 3mm.
Both FOC and FOP say that the colour is variable from purple, whitish-blue to white. The whole population in Dharamshala is uniformly violet with very little variation.
Also the comment at the end of the FOC description says : In FRPS (51: 90. 1991), the name Viola canescens Wallich was misapplied to this species. which makes me think that the flowers we consider as V. canescens here could very well be the V. pilosa. The ones I have filed under V. canescens have all the characters of the description above too with minor variations. Hence the persisting confusion.

We may find out in the end that the species here is indeed V. pilosa with good reason but I am personally happy to wait for more evidence.


Thanks, …, for your deep research.


Thanks, …, for your persistence and continued efforts to nail down the id.

I am also now wearing towards Viola indica (which I was mostly unaware of before). Pl. show us the clear view of the spur.



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I am sending again the side view of the spur and photos showing the stoloniferous nature of the plant. Photos showing other important characteristics of the plant are in the same email thread.

Thank you for persisting with it.


Yes. After going through all our posts and details therein, I agree with you for V. Indica.
It is so nice to have a member like you who always goes into the bottom of the issue.


Thank you Mr. Garg. I merely suggested that our flowers looked close to V. indica on FOI but I am not sure whether our flowers are V. indica. For one thing, our flowers have no aroma which indica flowers are supposed to have. So I am still confused.

Plantsoftheworldonline refers to the following document in support of the name:
Kumar, S. (2012). Herbaceous flora of Jaunsar-Bawar (Uttarkhand), India: enumerations Phytotaxonomy 12: 33-56.
But I cannot find this paper online. If someone has access to it, it will be useful to see what the author gives a description of V. indica.

I will be on a lookout for more information on the species and report back if I find something useful.


Thanks, …, I tried but could not find it anywhere.
Marking to …, if he can help in the matter to get us ‘Kumar, S. (2012). Herbaceous flora of Jaunsar-Bawar (Uttarkhand), India: enumerations Phytotaxonomy 12: 33-56.’

Further Bibliography is at IBIS flora :
Title Book Book Author Book Yearsort ascending
Viola indica W.Becker Flora of Jammu & Kashmir N.P.Singh (Ed.), D.K.Singh (Ed.) & B.P.Uniyal (Ed.) 2 002
Viola indica W.Becker Flora of India B.D.Sharma (Ed.) & N.P.Balakrishnan (Ed.) 1 993
Viola indica W.Becker Flowering Plants of India, Nepal & Bhutan H.B.Naithani 1 990
Viola indica W.Becker Fascicles of Flora of India S.P.Banerjee 7 B.B.Pramanik 1 983

Thank you once again. Unfortunately, I do not own any of these books. Perhaps someone on the group has and can help with the relevant page.


This journal is not online. It is published from Delhi, so someone from Delhi University would be helpful. I have added one student from DU on the email.


Tentatively taking it as Viola indica as per discussions at Viola indica from Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand


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Viola canescens?/ABFEB03 : 2 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (5)
We have Yellow Flax, Dalhousie Bluebells and this Viola sp. by way of flowers on the mountain slopes now. I think this is Viola canescens but  I am always prepared to learn.

Hindi: Banaksha ?
Himalayan White Violet (Viola canescens)
14 Feb. 2015
Mcleodganj, Dharamshala

1750m


Tentatively taking it as Viola indica as per discussions at Viola indica from Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand


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Viola/ABDEC43 : 3 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (4)

I saw this viola out on a stone wall. I didn’t think it was time for them to be out. Is it Viola canescens? It was definitely violet/pink and not white
Himalayan White Violet (Viola canescens)–Please confirm
Mcleodganj, Dharamshala, HP

20 December 2014


efi page on Viola canescens


I think more closer to Viola pilosa Blume rather than Viola canescens Wall. 


Tentatively taking it as Viola indica as per discussions at Viola indica from Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand   



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Violacea id Kalatope- al270110: This one I had thought to be V. pilosa… what do you all think.

Violet family
Location: Kalatope Khajjiar, Chamba
Altitude: 2100 mts
Season: February –
Habitat: wild
habit: herb

– Yes Seems V. pilosa (syn: V. serpens). .. I must compliment you for really nice flowers. In future please always remember to take one close up of insertion of leaf on stem. In Viola stipules are a great help. In this species they are entire or toothed but never fringed (found in V. canescens).


Tentatively taking it as Viola indica as per discussions at Viola indica from Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand


Violet indica/ABMAR11 : 2 posts by 2 authors.
This should be Viola indica judging by the colour and size.
However, I did not discern any sweet aroma. Please advise.
Indian Violet (Viola indica)
McLeodganj, Dharamshala, HP

6 March 2015


Do you have other images from this set showing the spur etc. ? 


Don’t think so, but these are no different from my other postings. At that time I assumed it to be V. indica. It is certainly the same we have been discussing under V. pilosa from here.



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at Dalhousie on a hill slope- Dec-09; Wild Flower for ID (08.02.2010 NSJ-01) – efloraofindia | Google Groups


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viola 2 for id mm2 24062012: viola with white flowers

near chakki mor close to parwanoo

himachal pradesh


Tried this one too, but too tough Viola !!! Search results –
  1. The violet family are promiscuous; given the chance, they would inveigle us to sigh over their frailty throughout north European countries and Greenland, the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Syria, Palestine, and North Africa; on through Kashmir, the Atlas mountains, and the Himalayas, to Central Siberia and the Altai mountains; and improbable as it may seem the marsh violet inhabits the Azores.” – http://americanvioletsociety.org/VioletGazette/VioletGazette_V1_2_P4.htm
  2. Viola albahttp://www.visoflora.com/photos-nature/viola-alba_2.html
  3. Viola blandahttp://em.ca/garden/native/nat_Viola%20blanda.html

I think this may be Viola indica as per images and details herein.


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please find attached photos of flowering plant from Srinagar, J & K photographed during third week of March. Requesting id.


This is a Viola species


Viola odorata I hope


Yes Agree with Viola odorata


I think this may be Viola indica as per images and details herein.



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Viola indica from Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand : 22 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (2)

Viola indica from Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand found blooming in April.


I have doubts about the 1st image. I am afraid it may be Viola pilosa
Do you have side view of the 2nd image ? If so, pl. post.
Do you have the keys between say Viola indica and Viola pilosa/ Viola canescens ?
Hi, …, Do you have the keys between say Viola indica and Viola pilosa/ Viola canescens ?
I could not find them on net.
I found only 2 specimen of Viola indica in GBIF, but here also flowers are not clear.

Unfortunately I am unable to find much information on Viola indica as well. Tabish ji’s flower looks a lot like our flowers here (which we have been discussing under V. pilosa).


Don’t you have the keys and details in the books you may be having like Flora simlensis etc. ?


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Flore Simlensis makes no mention of it but Flowers of the Himalaya by Polunin and Stainton does but briefly. Attaching both for reference.

Attachments (2)


Thanks a lot, …
I think Large flowers with stout hooked spur to 1 cm, may be the key.

So we have to see the clear view of the spur.



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I have checked that already and our flowers never have a spur longer than 6mm unless I am measuring incorrectly. If someone can guide me how to measure the spur correctly, I can still find a couple of flowers and measure again.

Our flowers are not fragrant as well.
Attaching side view of the spur.

Attachments(2)


Thanks, … This spur appears a bit hooked and interesting. Book says spur to 1 cm- I think meaning up to 1 cm.

Pl. post corresponding leaves and flower front view.


Also Viola patrinii reported in Flora Simlensis, may actually be not found in India as per Flora of China, which gives both Viola patrinii and Viola betonicifolia and as Flora of Pakistan gives only Viola betonicifolia Sm. in Rees with Viola patrinii auct. non DC. as a syn.


Again does not match our species. The leaves on V. betonicifolia are narrow as per the description and photos on our site.


Do you have any other literature on Viola indica, other than Flowers of the Himalaya by Polunin and Stainton ?


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Unfortunately not. But India Biodiversity Portal also has a description. Also, the first image looks a bit different, I think, just because the petals have curled back – probably a more mature flower. I included this picture because the spur is partly visible here. This picture is of the same group of plants that we found in Dhanaulti, and was taken at the same time as the second pic.

I attach another one with the spur visible.

Attachments(1)


Thank you … Do you remember if your flowers had aroma?


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Sorry, never checked the smell. After identifying it as Viola indica, was regretting not doing so. But the flower size agrees, 1.5-2 cm.

Attachments (1)


I agree with your id as spur appears to be longer.  


Thanks, … It gives very good description.

Hi, …, Pl. check your posts with this description other than odour:

Perennial herb, stoloniferous, about 5-12 cm tall. Roots rhizomatous, slender, short, stout and densely articulated. Stolons leafy and flowering up to 20 cm long. Stem absent or acaulescent. Leaves simple, basal, ovate-lanceolate to ovate-oblong, about 2-6 x 1.5-4 cm across, base cordate, margin crenate-serrate, apex deeply acute to subacuminate, glabrous to sparsely pubescent, stipules lanceolate-ovate, margin entire, apex acuminate, persistent, petiole slender, slightly winged above, up to 10 cm long. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, voilet or purplish with dark striations, fragrant, about 1.2-1.5 cm across, on long axillary pedicels, equal or longer than petioles, about 3-11 cm long, usually dimorphic (normal and cleistogamous flowers), bi-bracteolate about the middle, sepals 5, subequal, ovate-lanceolate to oblong, base usually auriculate, margins scarious or ciliate, persistent, about 4-6 x 1-2 mm across, petals 5, subequal, oblong-ovate, spreading, about 1.5 cm long, lateral ones smooth, not bearded at the base, lower petal largest, spurred basally, spur stout, slightly curved upwards, about 8 mm long. Stamens 5, hypogynous, filaments short, anthers 2 loculed. Ovary superior, ovoid-globose, sessile, 3 carpellary, glabrous, about 2 mm long, ovules many placentae parietal, style geniculate at base, stigma shortly beaked. Fruit capsule, not seen.


Not matching, odour, size and the stipules which are described as:

stipules lanceolate-ovate, margin entire, apex acuminate, persistent, otherwise it matches our flowers here.


Thanks, …. Flowers of Himalayas gives flower size as 2 cm compared to 1-1.5 cm across given here.

Stipules are not mention in the Flowers of Himalayas. So may not be key feature. Further, we have seen stipules are quite variable and differing in different sources for other species.
Mostly descriptions are written from specimens, I do not know how come odour has been mentioned in the books. Also this is one character, which is quite subjective and may vary from one individual to another.

In all, we may take such plants from Himachal as Viola indica, for the time being, being closest to it among all other species recorded here.


Thank you … This is precisely the reason why this genus is giving us so much trouble. I have trawled through the FOC pdf file on Viola and think even the species at the link is a close match but not quite there:
Perhaps we could have it listed as indica with ‘tentative’ in the brackets to alert the user. We can give reasons for it being uncertain.
The descriptions in different floras vary in precision and quality as can be expected. Also, tackling hundreds of species in one volume does not allow the author to give the time demanded by each individual plant.

.


Identification required..
1 image.
Location kashmir


Please check Viola !

To me appears close to Viola indica W.Becker as per comparative images at Viola


 


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References: Catalogue of Life The Plant List Ver.1.1 (Unresolved) GRIN  GBIF  Specimen Flowers of India  India Biodiversity Portal  IBIS Flora  POWO  Medicinal Plants

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