A tiny annual of short coastal turf, open disturbed areas on sandy soils, open sand on eroding coastal dunes, around rabbit burrows, and arable fields. It can also grow under the shelter of coastal Pteridium in the Isles of Scilly, and in thin soil on granite sea-cliffs in Guernsey. Lowland.
The 10-km distribution of this species is stable. However, several sites have been lost in the Isles of Scilly since the 1950s, and others are threatened by coastal erosion, building development and by coarse vegetation. Colonies have been known to re-appear on former sites following disturbance, suggesting the presence of a persistent seed bank.
European Southern-temperate element.
Light (Ellenberg): 9
Moisture (Ellenberg): 3
Reaction (Ellenberg): 5
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 1
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 6.7
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.6
Annual Precipitation (mm): 814
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 8
RDB Species Accounts
Viola kitaibeliana Schultes (Violaceae)
Viola nana (DC.) Godron
Status in Britain: VULNERABLE.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
In Britain, V. kitaibeliana is found only in the Isles of Scilly, where it occurs in short open turf on sandy soil, or on open sand, such as in eroded areas of sand-dune and around rabbit burrows. Associated plants are mostly dwarfed forms of common sand-dune species such as Anagallis arvensis, Cerastium diffusum, Erodium cicutarium, E. maritimum, Euphorbia portlandica, Festuca rubra, Lotus corniculatus, Myosotis ramosissima, Plantago coronopus and Senecio jacobaea. Formerly it was often found in arable fields, but very few of those populations persist.
It is an annual, flowering from the end of March into April. In natural habitats it generally withers and disappears by the end of May, but in arable ground may persist as straggling late-flowered plants into June or even early July (Lousley 1971). V. kitaibeliana can be readily distinguished by its small size, although some dwarf forms of V. arvensis and V. tricolor can be similar in habit.
Several sites for this plant have been lost since the 1950s, and it has apparently declined in numbers over the past few years. It now occurs almost exclusively on Bryher and Tean, with one recent record from St. Martin's. Most of its populations are very limited in extent, though thousands of plants may appear in a patch of only a few square metres. In some places, there may be a good seed-bank, since plants have been known to reappear at old sites following cultivation or other disturbance.
Most of its sites appear to be threatened to some degree. Dunes are subject to coastal erosion and inundation from the sea and, conversely, from the erection of coastal defences against both of these natural events. Locally, the digging of sand for building materials may destroy colonies. In the past sites have been built over, and others have been invaded by coarse vegetation.
V. kitaibeliana is found in the Channel Islands, west-central France, southern and central Europe and eastern Ukraine. However, preliminary studies by Kirschner have shown that the taxon encompasses a number of recognisable forms in Europe, and that the taxonomic position of British plants requires further investigation.
R. E. Parslow and M. J. Wigginton
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Atlas text references
1999. Flora of Cornwall.
1971. Flora of the Isles of Scilly.
1978. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.
1999. British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3.