Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Viola odorata L. var. pallido-plena Sw.

A very sweet scented violet.  Don describes Viola odorata pallido-plena Sw., as double and pale blue: ‘This variety is commonly called Neapolitan Violet in gardens.’

Horticultural & Botanical History

The Floricultural Cabinet provides detailed cultural notes for the Neapolitan violet.  ‘I believe this is the first-rate flower if Violets in cultivation, but it requires winter protection.  About the end of April take the old roots and part them, plant them out in beds on a north or north-east border, there to remain till the end of September, then take them up and pot them in thirty-two sized pots, in a mixture of vegetable mould, road scrapings, and loam: if not sufficiently gritty, add a little coarse river sand.  Place a tile in the bottom of each pot, likewise a handful of potsherds, broken very small.  Water them, and plunge them in a frame in cinder ashes, elevating them to within a few inches of the glass; draw off the lights in all fine dry weather, protecting them from all rain and damp.  By the above treatment, they will flower profusely the whole of the winter; they will also flower in a greenhouse, provided they are placed in a dry airy situation: a double flower, light blue, sweet-scented.’  [FC p.194/1835].  Neapolitan violets were grown in pots to maximise flower size for cutting.  ‘They are handy in pots for supplying the drawing room all through the winter.  A few pots, nicely massed and supplied weekly, have a charming appearance.  I have seen from 50-100 expanded flowers on a plant.’  Mr. Cox.  [Gard. Chron. 1848].

Three forms of Viola odorata flore pleno, including the Neapolitan violet, are illustrated in Phytanthoza Iconographia [vol.4, no.1011/1745]. The Neapolitan violet is the pale blue double flower at bottom centre of the illustration.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [H.235/1845].  In a note accompanying a plant order to Mr. Woores, 1st July, 1844, Macarthur describes the Neopolitan violet as double [MP A2933-1, p.42], consistent with Sweet’s description.


Published Apr 24, 2009 - 05:22 PM | Last updated Jan 27, 2011 - 02:52 PM

This very old illustration shows a number of wild flowers, mainly different species and forms of violet.

Viola odorata flore pleno | Phytanthoza iconographia vol.4, no.1011/1745 | BHL. The Neapolitan violet is the pale blue double flower at bottom centre of the illustration.

Family Violaceae
Region of origin

Europe, probably of garden origin from Italy

Common Name

Neapolitan violet, Parma violet

Name in the Camden Park Record

Viola odorata Neapolitana

Confidence level high