An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Viola canina

Viola canina

The Heath Dog Violet (Viola canina L.) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Violaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Violales Order,
Violaceae family,
Genus Viola,
V. canina species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Viola albertina Greene;
– Viola canina subsp. crassifolia Grönwall;
– Viola canina subsp. lucorum Schübl. & G.Martens, 1834;
– Viola canina subsp. pumila Wigand, 1859;
– Viola canina var. calcarea Rchb., 1824;
– Viola canina var. lanceolata Martrin-Donos, 1862;
– Viola canina var. longifolia Neilr., 1850;
– Viola canina var. lucorum Lange, 1878;
– Viola canina var. lucorum Rchb., 1824;
– Viola canina var. minor Ging., 1824;
– Viola canina var. sabulosa Rchb., 1824;
– Viola canina var. stricta Hartm.;
– Viola elatior Wimm.;
– Viola ferrariensis Campana ex Pio;
– Viola filipes Greene;
– Viola guitteauae Giraudias, 1865;
– Viola intermedia Krock.;
– Viola kutzingiana Rouy & Foucaud;
– Viola lucorum Pau;
– Viola lucorum Rchb., 1839;
– Viola montana subsp. schultzei (Billot) Janch.;
– Viola montana subsp. silvensis FontQuer;
– Viola pulchella Lam., 1779;
– Viola pumila Ging., 1824.
Within this species, the following subspecies and varieties are recognized:
– Viola canina subsp. canina L.;
– Viola canina subsp. contracta (Vl.V.Nikitin) Vl.V.Nikitin;
– Viola canina subsp. einseleana (F.W.Schultz ex Nyman) Erben;
– Viola canina subsp. schultzii (Billot) Döll;
– Viola canina subsp. silvensis (Font Quer) O.Bolòs & Vigo;
– Viola canina subsp. vulgaris Regel, 1861;
– Viola canina var. canina;
– Viola canina var. dunensis W.Becker;
– Viola canina var. sylvestris (Lam.) Regel.

Etymology –
The term Viola comes from the Greek ἴον íon viola, from an ancient ϝίον fíon with the same meaning.
The specific canine epithet comes from cánis cane: frequent, common as dogs are or loved by dogs or used to treat dogs.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Viola canina is a species with Eurasian distribution and present from Norway to Portugal, east to the Russian Far East, Turkey and the Caucasus; North Africa and Morocco; North America and Greenland.
Its habitat is that of the moors, arid prairies, dunes and marshes where it grows in lean pastures, clearings and edges of woods, grasslands and shrubs, generally on subacid soils, from sea level to the mountain belt.

Description –
Viola canina is a herbaceous plant that grows between 5 and 15 cm in height and produces numerous erect to decumbent stems.
The leaves are ovate and more or less cordate towards the base. The stipules are strictly lanceolate and toothed or fimbriate.
The flowers are solitary and arise from long axillary peduncles. The sepals are lanceolate and have appendages that grow during fruiting. The petals are deep blue, with a short (up to 5 mm) spur.
The fruit is a three-valve loculicidal capsule, acute, subtrigone, 6-9 x 4-6 mm, on an erect peduncle. Seeds of 1,5-2 mm, of dark brown color, with short eleosome.
It is a species that is often difficult to recognize and that presents a great variability. It differs from the Viola genus due to the absence of a rosette of basal leaves, a character that is sometimes not easy to appreciate.

Cultivation –
Viola canina is a perennial herbaceous plant that produces numerous stems that are formed from a rhizome. The plant is harvested in its natural state for local use as food and medicine.
For its cultivation it requires a fresh, moist, well-drained soil, rich in humus in partial or mottled shade and protected from hot winds. It tolerates arenaceous and calcareous soils but becomes chlorotic if the pH is too high. It prefers a pH between 6 and 6.5.
Propagation occurs by seed. Sowing should preferably be done in unheated seedbeds in autumn or early spring.
The young seedlings should be placed in single pots and transplanted in early summer.
It can also propagate by division. In this case, it is done immediately after flowering. Larger divisions can be planted directly in the open field.

Customs and Traditions –
Viola canina is a plant present in Eurasia but also in other continents and in Italy, with two subspecies, in all central-northern regions.
This plant, especially in the past, was used for food or medicine.
For edible use, young leaves and flower buds, raw or cooked, are used. When added to soups, they thicken them in much the same way as okra.
Furthermore, tea can be made from the leaves.
In medicinal use, flowers and leaves are used which are strongly cathartic and emetic.
The plant has also had a reputation for curing skin diseases.
No other uses are known.

Preparation Method –
Viola canina is a plant that was once used in the food and medicinal fields.
Young leaves and flower buds, raw or cooked, are used.
Furthermore, tea can be made from the leaves.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
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Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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