Nestled within the short coastal turf, or poking its head up in open, disturbed ground such as that found in coastal sand dunes, or at the entrances to rabbit burrows, the Dwarf Pansy (Viola kitaibeliana) is a Scilly speciality.  Standing no higher than 1 cm tall, this annual plant is something to be believed...if you can find it!  If you are lucky enough to visit when the conditions the previous year have been just right, you may be lucky to see several hundred flower heads in a patch of just a few square metres.

This mini annual plant is one of the islands earliest native flowering species, being in full bloom by the end of March, before withering away for the year by the end of May at the latest.  Its white to creamy yellow flower-head, with a deep lemon yellow centre, grows no wider than 20 mm and sits atop of a nodding, downy stem which helps to capture moisture from the surrounding air.  The Dwarf pansy adds a splash of colour before other species associated with dune grasslands such as Stork’s-bill, Portland Spurge, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Buck’s-horn Plantain have even begun to think about making an appearance.

The plant which is classed as Vulnerable is at threat from coastal erosion and inundation by the sea.  The low lying areas on Scilly where it can be found such as Rushy Bay on Bryher are feeling the effects of climate change and sea level rise and there is a risk that this species could be lost in the future.  The Trust is working hard to enhance areas for the Dwarf pansy to grow. 

Please help us to keep this tiny Scilly speciality by supporting us in any way you can.