Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Viola pilosa Blume, Cat. Gew. Buitenz. 57. 1823. V. serpens Wallich ex Ging. in Dc., Prodr. 1: 296. 1824; Hook. f. & Thomson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 184. 1872. V. serpens Var. glabra Hook. f. & Thomson, l. c. 184.

Hindi & Punj.: Banafsha; Garh.: Thungtu.

Herbs, prostrate to subprostrate; stems or stolons usually long, leafy. Leaves ovate to deltoid, shallowly cordate at base, 1.5 - 8 x 1 - 6 cm, serrate; petioles 2 - 10 cm long, pubescent; stipules ovate-acuminate, subentire to dentate, 6 - 15 mm long. Peduncles 3 - 8 cm long, pilose; bracts 2, placed above middle, lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, entire, ca 6 mm long. Flowers white or pale violet. Sepals linear-lanceolate, acute, entire or denticulate, 4 - 8 x 1 - 2 mm; appendage ca 3 mm long, pointed. Petals obovate-oblong, 2 - 4 times as long as broad, 1 - 2 cm long; basal one obovate, slightly bearded; lateral ones oblanceolate, bearded at base; spur ca 5 mm long, obtusely cylindrical. Style subclavate, subtruncate and shortly beaked at apex, 1.5 - 3 mm long. Capsules ellipsoid, ca 5 mm in diam., glabrous.

Fl. March - May; Fr. May - July. Often throughout the year.

Distrib. India: Moist places around forests and margins of culivation, in grasslands and alpine meadows, 1500 - 3500 m. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Thailand and Indonesia (Sumatra and Java).

Notes. Medicinally useful as febrifuge, flowers used in lung troubles; petals made into a syrup and used as a remedy for infantile disorders; roots emetic.

A variable species. Taller forms grow in shaded humid places and shorter forms grow in rock-crevices. V. serpens subsp. serpens var. deltoidea W. Becker and V. serpens subsp. garitwalensis W. Becker are considered synonymous with V. pilosa, being a smaller form of the same species. This is clear from a study of the specimens from Garhwal and other places.

Chromosome number reported: 2n = 18, 48 (Chatterjee & Sharma in J. Genet. 61 (1): 52 - 63. 1973).

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