Common butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris

The common butterwort, also known as bog violet or marsh violet, can be found in damp areas such as bogs, fens, wet heaths and rock crevices. Due to its low-nutrient habitat, the common butterwort has evolved into a carnivorous plant that supplements its diet with insects.

Behaviour

Common butterwort has a long, slender stem which grows up to three funnel-shaped purple flowers. These attractive purple flowers entice insects to land on the star-shaped cluster of yellow-green leaves at the base of the stem. The leaves secrete a sticky fluid which traps the common butterwort’s prey, then close and digest the insect.

Size

Height: 10 cm – 20 cm

Status

Common

Distribution

Common throughout Scotland

When to see

May – July

Facts

  • It was considered a magical plant on some Scottish islands. On Colonsay, if you picked it you would be protected from witches, and if your cows ate it they would be protected from elf arrows
  • The butterwort’s name comes from the belief that if you rubbed this plant on a cow’s udders, it would protect the milk and butter from evil.
  • The leaves can be used to curdle and thicken milk

Common name

Common butterwort

Species name

Pinguicula vulgaris

When to see in Scotland

May – July

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Grey Hill Grassland and Rahoy Hills.

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