< Flora
Wood Violet
Viola riviniana

Wood Violet (Viola riviniana) is a perennial herb native to woodland and scrub across the country. On a single rhizome it develops several leafy stems, reaching a height of 8 to 20 cm. The plant forms low at its the base a rosette of 2 to 5 consecutive leaves. Leaves are simple, dark green, heart-shaped, fitted with long handles. The bright blue to purple flowers of the Wood Violet are placed singly in the axils of the leaves, numbering from 1 to 4. They are odorless and appear from April to June. Once the flowering period is over, the beautiful flowers are replaced with dry fruits in the shape of trammel brown boxes.

Viola riviniana prefers the bright light and can be found throughout Bulgaria. The species prefers dry, mineral-rich soils in enlightened chestnut, beech and oak forests. Wood Violet is widespread in Europe, North Africa and West Asia in areas with Mediterranean or temperate maritime climate.

Viola riviniana belongs to the vast and diverse family Violaceae, which is widespread across the globe. In Bulgarian flora the family is represented only by the genus Viola (Violet) with about 31 species .

Similar to Viola riviniana (Wood Violet) are the species Viola odorata (odorous violet) and Viola canina (Dog violet).

Violets are plants that can hybridize with each other, resulting in a great diversity of forms. In Bulgaria though, the percentage of endemism is high. Five species are identified as Balkan and two are Bulgarian endemics. Of the 31 species occurring in Bulgarian flora, 13 are rare or endangered plants listed in the "Red Book of Bulgaria".
Violets have found a significant place in the poetry as well as the folklore of Bulgarians. Poets most often compare these flowers with a smiling bride face, making them a symbol of love and fidelity.

Bozhana Ribarova
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