Marsh violets and, to a lesser extent dog violets, are the staple food plant of the larvae of the small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly. Last Friday Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham volunteers planted 125 pots of violets on a site adjacent to Longburnford Quarry Nature Reserve.
The site lies on an adjacent farm, and with the kind permission of the landowner a small section of wet land along the burn side has been fenced off to protect it from browsing cattle. Excluding cattle will allow wild flowers to regenerate and marsh violets to be planted.
Longburnford Quarry, the adjacent roadside verges and land to the west of the road all the way to the Waskerley Way, are important sites for the small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, once County Durham’s rarest butterfly.
Marsh violets have spherical leaves and very light mauve flowers, whereas the leaves of dog violets are distinctly heart shaped and much greener, with a dark purple flower head. Marsh violets, as their name implies, like wetter conditions, whilst the dog violets like drier areas.
A big thank you to volunteers, Ann, Krys and Lesley who planted out all the pots of violets- no mean task at all and thank you to the land owner.
Photographs taken by Heart of Durham volunteer Ann Walsby on Friday the 21st of April