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Natural Order.-CAMPANACEA, Linnæus. VIOLARIE, De Candolle.
VIOLEE, Jussieu. VIOLACEÆ, Lindley.
Calyx of 5 leaves, produced at the base.
There are eight British species, all of which have their flowers reversed. Name
Nearly the same in all languages. According to some from lov, the food of the metamorphosed lö. According to others, a vi olendi, from the power of its scent; or, quod juxta vias nasci amat, because it loves to grow by way-sides, where it introduces itself to the notice of passengers.-HOOKER.
This genus is divided into two families. 1. Stemless, or nearly so. 2. With a stem. The former comprehends V. hirta, odorata, palustris : the latter V. canina, flavicornis, luctea, tricolor, lutea.
* Stemless or nearly so.
1. Viola hiRTA.—Hairy Violet. SPECIFIC CHARACTER.
Leaves heart-shaped, rough with hairs. Petioles hairy. Capsule hairy. Calyx leaves obtuse. Petals, lateral ones with a hairy central line. Creeping Scions none.
Specific name from hirtus, hairy. Linn. Sp. Plant. 1324. English Botany, t. 894. Smith's English Flora, vol. 1. p.301. Hooker's British Flora, p. 118. Jones and Kingston's Flora Devoniensis, p. 38. Lindley’s Synopsis, p. 35. Loudon's Encyclopædia of Plants, p, 186. Loudon's Hortus Britannicus, p. 87.
Viola Martia major hirsuta inodora, Raii Synopsis, 365. Habitat.-Woods and hedges, pincipally in a chalky or limestone soil. Flowers.-April-May.
Perennial. Root cylindrical ; fibrous, the fibres much stronger and stouter, though less branched, than in V. odorata; thickish; knotty with the scars from the old leaves; woody; brittle ; ascending ; perennial. Scions not creeping, forming leafy tufts, but not taking root. Stem none. Leaves vernation involute; oblong heart-shaped; crenate; hairy on both sides, hairs erect; the crenate edges ciliated;
ascending; of a lighter green than in V. odorata. Petiole channelled in front, round behind ; rough, with copious horizontal hairs, particularly during the vernation of the leaf, when it is almost woolly; longer than the leaves. Stipulas radical; crowded; membranaceous; very pale green; ovate; toothed, but not so much as in V.odorata, each tooth bearing a gland at its summit. Scape taller than the leaves; erect; hairless; angular as far as the bracteas, afterwards round in front, channelled behind. Bracteas two; lanceolate; situated below the middle of the scape; smooth; with glandular teeth secreting a brownish fluid; membranous at the edges. Flowers solitary; drooping ; scentless. Calyx of five unequal leaves (sepals) attached above their rounded slightly hairy base; obtuse; æstivation imbricate; purplish; smooth; marked with three purplishcoloured nerves; membranous at the edges, with a few glandular teeth, like those of the stipulas and bracteas. Corolla of five unequal petals, the uppermost broadest, notched, turned downwards, terminating at the base in a blunt reddish-purple spur projecting between the leaves (sepals) of the calyx; two lateral ones opposite, equal, obtuse, straight, with a tuft of white hairs ; two lowermost equal, larger, and turned upwards (the position of the flower being reversed); varying in colour from a light greyish blue to almost a purple ; uppermost petal streaked with black and white. Stamens five, alternate with the petals. Filaments very small, two of which have combined appendages, which enter the spur of the corolla. Anthers broad ; two-celled ; bursting inwards; unconnected ; orange-tipped. Style single; projecting beyond the anthers. Stigma bent. Ovarium hairy. Capsule one-celled ; three-valved; many-seeded; opening with elasticity. Seeds ovate; polished.
This plant is very closely allied to V. odorata ; though the distinctions noticed by Mr. Curtis are both constant and very evident. The short, not creeping scions, the hairiness of the plant, and the situation of the bracteas. Mr. J.T. Mackay has observed this species immediately after flowering elongate its flower stalks, which, taking a downward direction, bury the ripening capsules to the depth of two or three inches beneath the soil.
The later flowers of this species, of V. odorata, and of V. palustris, often perfect their fruit though destitute of petals.
2.-V. ODORATA, Linnæus.--SWEET VIOLET.
Leaves heart-shaped, nearly smooth. Petioles nearly smooth. Calyx leaves obtuse. Petals lateral ones with a hairy central line. Scions creeping
Linn. Sp. Pl. 1324. E. B. t. 619. Sm. Eng. Fl. vol. 1. p. 301. Hook. Br. Fl. p. 118. J. and K. FI. Dev. p. 38. Lind). Syn. p. 35. Loud. Ency. Pl. p. 186. Loud. Hor. Brit. p. 87.
Vivla Murtia purpurea, Raii Synopsis, 364.
Specific name from odoratus, sweet-scented, fragrant.
Leaves vernation involute; rounded heart-shaped ; crenate; slightly wrinkled ; hairy, the hairiness very variable; the upper surface sometimes entirely, sometimes partially covered with scattered, rather rigid, hairs : the prominent veins of the lower surface well covered with hairs, (during vernation very much so) the intermediate parts generally smooth; the crenate edges hairy; spreading; of a darker green than V. hirta. Petiole channelled in front, round behind; hairy, hairs deflexed; varying very much in length. Stipulas radical ; crowded; closely embracing the young scape, leaves, and petiole; becoming membranaceous in age; streaked with purple; lanceolateovate, with taper-pointed teeth, each tooth tipped with a gland secreting a brown fuid of a lighter colour than that of the bracteas. Scape angular; twisted as high as the bracteas, afterwards round or slightly twisted ; ascending; occasionally streaked with purple; becoming gradually more hairy towards the top; hairs deflexed. Bracteas two ; lanceolate; narrow; smooth; except at the edges, which are beautifully ciliated; toothed at the base, each tooth with a gland on or near its summit secreting a brown fluid ; situated above the middle of the scape when the flower has come to its full expansion; completely enveloping the flower during æstivation. Flowers solitary; drooping. Calyx of 5 unequal, ovate-obtuse leaves (sepals); situated as in the former; slightly hairy ; ciliated at the base; æstivation imbricate; persistent; almost as long as the corolla ; green, deeply stained with purple. Corolla of 5 unequal petals; upper one spurred, spur purple in the white variety, notched, the two side ones
with a cluster of white hairs ; æstivation convolute; white tinged with purple, deep purple, and sometimes of a lilac colour; of a most delicious odour. Stamens 5 alternate with the petals. Filaments very small as in the former. Anthers broad ; two-celled; bursting inwards ; unconnected ; orange-tipped. Style single; projecting beyond the anthers. Stigma a single hooked point. Ovarium hairy at the summit. Capsule one-celled; three-valved; many-seeded; opening with elasticity. Seeds ovate; polished; numerous.
The violet has been a favourite flower with poets of all ages and countries. The Greeks gave the epithet violet-coloured eyelids to the Goddess of Beauty; and the Arabians compare the eyelids of a fine woman bathed in tears to a violet dropping dew. This comparison has been borrowed by Byron, though applied by him to the colour of the eyes, not the eyelids.
I saw thee weep, the big bright tear
of blue ; And then methought it did appear
A violet dropping dew. To understand the Arabian allusion we must remember the oriental custom of staining the lids of the eyes with an impalpable powder, of a colour nearly approaching that of a violet, in order to give a tender and languid expression. Does Shakspeare refer to the same expression when he says,
Ebn Rumi speaking of the violet says, “It is not a flower, but an emerald bearing a purple gem!”
Hasselquist informs us that the sweet-scented violet is greatly esteemed, not only for its smell and colour, but especially for its use in sherbet; which, when the Easterns intend to entertain their guests in an elegant manner, is made of violet sugar. The highland ladies are also said to have used this flower as a cosmetic, though it is not easy to discover how Scotland could produce them in sufficient quantity for that purpose. A Gaelic author says, “Anoint thy face with goat's milk, in which violets have been infused, and there is not a young prince who will not be charmed with thy beauty."
The syrup of violets was formerly very much used as a drink to quench thirst in fevers, and the plant was cultivated for that purpose at Stratford-upon-Avon.
The Syrup, which is of a fine blue colour, is sometimes used as a chemical test for acids, and alkalis. Slips of paper stained with the juice of the petals of the purple flower are employed in the same manner.
The plant is fed upon by the Argynnis Adippe.
4. V. CANINA, Linnæus.-Dog's VIOLET.
Stem at length ascending, channelled. Leaves cordate, acute. Calyx leaves acute. Stipulas long, ciliato-dentate. Bracteas awlshaped, entire.
Specific name from caninus, belonging to a dog.
Viola Martia inodora sylvestris, Raii Synopsis, 364.
** Furnished with a stem.
Root cylindrical, fibrous, knotty with the scars from the old leaves woody, perennial. Stem at first very short, but soon rising to 6—10 inches; rather oblique; leafy; angular; channelled; smooth. Leaves vernation involute; heart-shaped ; acute; crenate; upper surface with short appressed hairs, the lower surface smooth, shining, dark green, frequently strongly marked with purplish veins; the crenate edges not hairy; ascending. Petiole channelled in front, round behind ; hairless ; occasionally purplish ; varying in length, but always longer than the leaves. Stipulas both radical and cauline; very deeply toothed; streaked with purple; acute; without glands. Peduncle square; upright ; the early ones radical, the rest axillary. Bracteas two; awl. shaped ; hairless; not toothed; streaked with purple. Flowers solitary; drooping. Calyx of 5 unequal leaves (sepals); linear-lanceolate; smooth ; æstivation imbricate; with a strongly marked central purple line; edges membranaceous. Corolla of 5 unequal petals, upper one spurred; the spur varying in colour from a dull whitish green to a light purple; the lateral petals much more hairy than in V. hirta and odorata ; æstivation convolute; blue, purple, and sometimes almost white; scentless. Stamens five; alternate with the petals. Filaments very small, as in the former. Anthers broad; two-celled; bursting inwards; slightly cohering; orange-tipped. Style single; projecting beyond the anthers. Stigma more blunt than in V. odorata. slightly hairy. Capsule, as in the former; valves compressed. Seeds ovate; polished; numerous.