Chinese Violet
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Chinese Violet
P Native Photo: Angela Pangkam
Common name: Chinese Violet
Botanical name: Viola philippica    Family: Violaceae (Violet family)
Synonyms: Viola patrinii var. chinensis, Viola alisoviana

Chinese Violet is a perennial, virtually stemless herb, 4-14 cm tall, up to 20 cm tall at fruiting. Flowers are purple-violet or purplish, rarely white, light colored and purple-striped at throat, medium-sized. Flower-stalks usually numerous, equaling or exceeding leaves, slender, hairless or finely velvet-hairy, with 2 linear bracteoles near middle. Sepals are ovate to ovate-lanceshaped, 3-7 x 0.7-1.8 mm, tip tapering; appendages short, 1-1.5 mm, 1/2 to 1/6 as long as sepal, tip rounded or finely toothed. Petals are obovate or oblong-obovate, lateral ones 1-1.2 cm, inside hairless or rarely lightly bearded, anterior one 1.3-2 cm (spur included), inside purple-veined. Spur is tubular, 3-8 mm, 2-5 x as long as calycine appendages. Leaves are numerous, basal; leaf-stalk usually 1-2 x exceeding blades at anthesis, very narrowly winged in upper part, up to 10 cm at fruiting, finely velvet-hairy or hairless. Upper blades are oblong-lanceshaped or triangular-ovate, usually smaller than lower ones; lower ones oblong, narrowly ovate-lanceshaped, or oblong-ovate, 1.5-4 x 0.5-1 cm, base flat or wedge-shaped, rarely slightly heart-shaped, margin shallowly rounded toothed, tip blunt. Capsules are ellipsoid, 5-12 mm, hairless. Chinese Violet is found in fields, grassy places on mountain slopes, forest margins, thickets, roadsides, below 1700 m, in NE India, China and SE Asia. Flowering: February-May.
Medicinal uses: Chinese Violet is a widely used herb in Chinese traditional medicine. It is an important constituent of the traditional Chinese medicine ‘Zi Hua Di Ding’, a drug with many documented local uses. One example is its use in treating beriberi.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.

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