ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Viola betonicifolia (Arrowhead Violet, Arrow-Leaf Violet)

Updated on July 15, 2012

Viola betonicifolia is a low growing, flowering perennial herbaceous plant of the violet and pansy family, Violaceae. The species was first described in 1817 by James Edward Smith, an English botanist. It’s native to the coastal regions of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria as well as most of Tasmania in Australia. Additionally it is also native to parts of India, Pakistan and South-East Asia including Papua New Guinea. In the wild it is found growing singularly or in patches on moist, shaded, forest floors.

Viola betonicifolia plants grow to a maximum size of only about 30cm (1 ft) tall with a 30cm (1 ft) spread. If the leaves of this plant die due to water stress, frost or grazing by animals the plant can reshoot from an underground woody rootstock. The common names of Viola betonicifolia include arrow-leaf violet, showy violet, arrowhead violet and mountain violet.


Viola betonicifolia (Arrowhead Violet) Flower
Viola betonicifolia (Arrowhead Violet) Flower | Source

The flowers of Viola betonicifolia are similar to heartease (Viola tricolor) in shape. The petals are purple, sometimes with lighter coloured patches and have a violet or white-coloured throat striated with darker or lighter venation. The flowers grow to about 1.5cm (1 inch) across. The flowers become paler as they age. The flower stalks and the base of the leaves where they emerge from the ground often have a red tinge. A nearly pure white-flowered variety, Viola betonicifolia var. albescens, also exists. Arrow-leaf violet flowers during Winter, Spring and Summer. The flowers of Viola betonicifolia are able to be self-pollinated and the plants will sometimes produce small flower which will never open and instead go straight to seed, a method of reproduction called cleistogamy.

The flowers are followed by a 3-valved pod which ripens from green to brown and then splits open, releasing the seeds within which are held in the v-shaped groves of each valve. The seeds are about 2mm in diameter and of a tan-yellow colour.


The leaves of the arrow-leaf violet are a rich, deep-green colour and grow in a rosette formation from the base of the plant. As several of its common names suggest, the leaves of this species are arrow-shaped and are borne on a long stalk (which is actually still part of the leaf, only the width of the leaf is reduced either side of the vein and curved into a v-shaped channel). The leaves can be up to 10cm (4 inches) long or 15cm (6 inches) long if the leaf-stalk is included in the measurement, although leaf size is rather variable and a single plant may have leaves of many different sizes all at once. Some leaves are more lanceolate (lance shaped) than arrow-shaped and there are also intermediates between these two, sometimes all on the same plant. The species name betonicifolia is a reference to the similarity of the foliage of Viola betonicifolia to Betony (Stachys officinalis), another garden plant with broad, arrow-shaped leaves.

Viola betonicifolia Arrow-Shaped Leaf
Viola betonicifolia Arrow-Shaped Leaf
Viola betonicifolia Lanceolate Leaf
Viola betonicifolia Lanceolate Leaf
Viola betonicifolia Intermediate Leaves.  The lower leaf has been chewed by a caterpillar.
Viola betonicifolia Intermediate Leaves. The lower leaf has been chewed by a caterpillar.


Viola betonicifolia is important ecologically as it’s the sole host plant of the endangered laced fritillary butterfly (Argynnis hyperbius) the caterpillars of which feed upon the leaves. The butterflies only do well when large numbers of arrow-head violets all occur at the same location, such as how they can be found growing in some coastal Melaleuca swamps. Habitat destruction due to the draining of such swamps is threatening the existence of the laced fritillary butterfly. Due to the aforementioned requirement, laced fritillary butterflies are unlikely to use garden grown plants as a host. Another butterfly, the Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe) is an important pollinator of arrow-leaf violet flowers.


Viola betonicifolia growth form and variability of leaves.  This plant was one year old and growing in sub-optimal (dry & sunny) conditions.
Viola betonicifolia growth form and variability of leaves. This plant was one year old and growing in sub-optimal (dry & sunny) conditions.

When grown at home arrowhead violet grows best when planted in a shady, damp spot in the garden. Clumps of arrow-leaf violet can be divided once large enough during Winter and spread to other sections of the garden. Once well established arrowhead violet will self-seed readily in the garden, spreading outwards from the parent plant. Collected seed can be germinated by sowing them 6mm (1/4 inch) deep in seed raising mix, watering and placing the growing container into a plastic bag to help keep the humidity in. Once the seedlings emerge the bag can be removed and they can later be planted into the garden once they have a few true leaves. Viola betonicifolia is relatively pest and disease free when grown in the home garden. A number of species of caterpillars will chew the leaves and earwigs can damage the flowers, however these pests are minor and don’t need to be controlled. Viola betonicifolia is also suited well suited for growing in rockeries.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)