Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Purple Leaved Common Dog Violet
Viola riviniana 'Purpurea Group'

Family: Violaceae (vy-oh-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Viola (vy-OH-la) (Info)
Species: riviniana (riv-in-ee-AH-nuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Purpurea Group

Synonym:Viola labradorica var. purpurea

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Baa
Thumbnail #1 of Viola riviniana by Baa

By Baa
Thumbnail #2 of Viola riviniana by Baa

By booboo1410
Thumbnail #3 of Viola riviniana by booboo1410

By yvana
Thumbnail #4 of Viola riviniana by yvana

By AnniesAnnuals
Thumbnail #5 of Viola riviniana by AnniesAnnuals


No positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Feb 23, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Viola riviniana Purpurea Group is a European species widely sold in the US under the misleading name of Viola labradorica.

The true Viola labradorica, native to North America, does not appear to be currently in cultivation.

The two names are not synonyms, but different species.

I find that the purple-toned foliage is its chief ornamental asset. Greater light brings out the purple tones, and the leaves are greener in more shade.

I find that the flowers are small and stingily produced, and their season is brief. They have no fragrance.

This isn't a plant for the tidy gardener. It won't form a neat edging to a bed, nor has it ever grown into a weed-suppressive groundcover for me.

My plants are substantially smaller than the several common weedy native species---the height is generally 1-4".

I find that individual plants are short-lived, and if I want to keep it I need to rely on its prolific self-sowing. That means I can't use a weed-suppressive mulch. It tends to grow where it wants to, and it doesn't pay a lot of attention to my ideas about where I want it to grow---it often tends to fade out there, for reasons I can't seem to discern.

It's a good plant for the "wild" looking garden under trees, if you don't mind that it isn't native.

Neutral henryr10 On May 8, 2010, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Thanks Baa!
I purchased this grossly misnamed and finally had it ID'd as
Viola labradorica.
This led to finding the true ID here.

I've seen it in full bloom and pictures do not in any way do it justice.
Much more an eye catcher than most Violas.
The burgundy leaves set off the blooms perfectly.

Neutral as I just purchased it, but parent clump appears to be doing quite well here in SW OH.

Neutral Baa On Aug 30, 2001, Baa wrote:

Viola labradorica var. Purpurea of Gardens often still sold as this. The true Labrador Violet (V. labradorica) is hard to find and a native of Canada and North USA.

Almost hairless perennial with small, heart shaped, burgandy coloured leaves. Bears small blue/violet coloured flowers with a purple spur in March to May and often July through to September. This is a varient of the European native Common Dog Violet.

Self seeds everywhere and may even become invasive over time but great for a wood/wild flower garden.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Richmond, California
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Cincinnati, Ohio
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
University Place, Washington

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