This speices is perhaps the rarest (5), and most beautiful of all our native violets (6). The fragile looking flowers are bluish-white in colour and usually have a sheen reminiscent of mother-of-pearl (6).
The fen violet is a short-lived perennial species (6), which begins to flower in May (2) and has an unpredictable pattern of occurrence (5). The seeds are known to be resilient and need disturbance of the ground to allow them to germinate (2).
Once known from a number of locations in the south of Britian, the fen violet is now restricted to a single site in Oxfordshire (2) and just two sites in Cambridgeshire; Wicken Fen and Woodwalton Fen (5). The species occurs in Continental Europe, where it is also rare (2).
The fen violet is included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. English Nature is funding a monitoring programme for the species, and seed has been collected for the Millenium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and for the University of Oxford's Botanic Garden (2). There are plans to introduce the species to a site where it can be appreciated by the public (2). Both of the Cambridgeshire sites where fen violet occurs are National Nature Reserves (5), and the species is fully protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (4).
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