Viola cephalonica

Figure 1. The steno-endemic species of  Viola cephalonica on the highest peaks of Mt. Ainos.

Viola cephalonica (Cephalonian Violet) is the rarest plant of  Cephalonia, since it only occurs on the highest peaks of Mt. Ainos, occupying stony substrates and rock crevices (Fig. 1). In other words, it is a steno-endemic species of Mt. Ainos (Fig. 2) that exists nowhere else in the world!

Τhe visitors have the opportunity to observe its largest subpopulation here, in the locality "Hionistra". It also occurs on the tallest summit of Mt. Ainos, (Megas Soros), as well as in other in-between peaks.

Χάρτες εξάπλωσης του είδους Viola cephalonica

Figure 2. The distribution of Viola cephalonica in Greece and Cephalonia isl. (yellow color- Please press on the map for magnification).

Viola cephalonica was named after Cephalonia, when in 1927 the German botanist Bornmüller described it as a new species. It is a small perennial plant, some centimeters high, with characteristic mauve flowers. It flowers from spring until early summer.

Κεφαλληνικές Bιόλες σε σχισμές βράχων

Πληθυσμός ατόμων Viola cephalonica

Άτομα του είδους Viola cephalonica μέσα από τις πέτρες

Viola cephalonica - Το άνθος

Figure 3. Characteristic photos of Viola cephalonica on Mt. Ainos.

Viola cephalonica shares its limited area of distribution with an array of endemic and important species of the Greek Flora, e.g. Ajuga orientalis subsp. aenesia (Fig. 4), Campanula garganica subsp. cephalenica and Cerastium candidissimum (Fig. 4), Corydalis solida subsp. incisa (Fig. 4), Paronychia albanica subsp. graeca (Fig. 4), Poa cephalonica, Saponaria aenesia , Scutellaria rupestris subsp. cephalonica, Veronica glauca subsp. peloponnesiaca.

Ajuga orientalis subsp. aenesia

Campanula garganica subsp. cephallenica

Paronychia albanica subsp. graeca

Corydalis solida subsp. incisa

Figure 4. Some of the most characteristic species of  Mt. Ainos flora: Ajuga orientalis subsp. aenesia (upper left), Campanula garganica subsp. cephallenica και Cerastium candidissimum (upper right), Corydalis solida subsp. incisa (down right), Paronychia albanica subsp. graeca (down left).

The establishment of broadcasting and telecommunications installations in the area, resulted in a degradation of its natural qualities and thus in a reduction of the suitable habitat and the area of occupancy of Viola cephalonica. In an effort to protect Viola cephalonica against adverse human impacts, the current  enclosure was constructed in 2008 by the Management Body of Ainos National Park with the help of the Forest Service of Cephalonia.