Cephalonian Violet (Viola cephalonica Bornm.)

Figure 1. The steno-endemic Viola cephalonica thriving in Aenos highest peaks.

Viola cephalonica (Kefalonian viola, violet) main habitat is located at the area Chionistra (next to the antennas park) of mount Aenos, in rocky terrain and crevices. Kefalonian viola grows only at the highest peaks of mount Aenos and it is the rarest plant growing in Kefalonia (Figure 1). It is a mount Aenos localized endemic species that does not exist anywhere else in the world! The visitors have the opportunity to observe dense subpopulations except the position “Chionistra”, also at Aenos’ highest peak (Megas Soros), and in the lower peaks between these two positions (Figure 2).

Εξάπλωση της Viola
Figure 2. The distribution of Viola cephalonica in Greece (Kefalonia marked in yellow) – to zoom, click on the map.

In 1927 the German botanist Bornmüller first described Viola cephalonica as a new species and gave to the plant its botanical name related to the location where it was found. It is a small, perennial plant with characteristic violet flowers (Figure 3), a few centimeters high that blossoms from spring till the beginning of summer.

Viola Viola
Viola Viola

Figure 3. Characteristic photos of Viola cephalonica from Mt. Aenos.

The growing area of Viola cephalonica, hosts also endemic or/and important species of Greek vegetation: Ajuga orientalis subsp. aenesia, Campanula garganica subsp. cephallenica and Cerastium candidissimum, Corydalis solida subsp. incisa, Paronychia albanica subsp. graeca, Poa cephalonica, Saponaria aenesia, Scutellaria rupestris subsp. cephalonica, Veronica glauca subsp. peloponnesiaca.

Ajuga orientalis subsp. aenesia Campanula garganica subsp. cephallenica και Cerastium candidissimum
Paronychia albanica subsp. graeca Corydalis solida subsp. incisa

Figure 4. Characteristic flora species from Mt. Aenos: Ajuga orientalis subsp. aenesia (upper left), Campanula garganica subsp. cephallenica and Cerastium candidissimum (upper right), Paronychia albanica subsp. graeca (lower left), Corydalis solida subsp. incisa (lower right).

However, the installation of broadcasting transponders in the area had a downgraded effect on the natural characteristics of Viola cephalonica habitat and the limitation of species spreading area. Viola cephalonica protection from human interventions, took place in 2008 when a fence was constructed in Chionistra position by Aenos National Park Management Body, in collaboration with Kefalonian Forest Service.