Dogtooth violet Erythronium dens-canis

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
dog's tooth violet


The plant commonly known as Dog's-tooth violet, boasts a delicate and graceful aesthetic. It generally has two broad, mottled leaves that emerge from the ground in a distinctive pattern resembling a dog's tooth, giving rise to its name. These leaves often bear a grayish-green color with purplish-brown mottling that adds to its ornamental appeal. In spring, Dog's-tooth violet produces a singular, nodding flower on each of its stems. The flower's petals are quite striking, often exhibiting a soft pink to lilac or possibly a purplish hue, which may sometimes appear with a white variant. The petals curve backward, away from the flower's center, creating a unique turk's-cap shape. The interior of the bloom has a central cluster of prominent, contrasting anthers, which provide an attractive dash of color, typically yellow or sometimes orange. These anthers stand out against the more subdued color of the petals. The flower's shape, along with the color contrast, makes for an exquisite display during its blooming season. Below ground, the plant has a bulb that functions as an energy reservoir, allowing it to emerge year after year. This bulb is what gives the Dog's-tooth violet its characteristic name, as its shape resembles a canine's tooth. Overall, the Dog's-tooth violet’s appearance is one of understated beauty, with its mottled leaves and elegantly curving flowers, making it a favored choice for woodland gardens and naturalized areas where it can create a captivating carpet of color in early spring.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Dog's-tooth Violet, Dogtooth Violet, Dog-tooth Violet, Dens-canis, Adder's Tongue, Trout Lily

    • Common names

      Erythronium hajastanum, Erythronium tauricum, Erythronium caucasicum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Dog's tooth violet is generally not considered toxic to humans. However, if any part of the plant is ingested in large quantities, it may cause mild stomach upset. There are no severe toxic effects documented in humans following the ingestion of Dog's tooth violet.

    • To pets

      Dog's tooth violet is not commonly listed as a toxic plant for pets. However, it is always possible for individual animals to have sensitivity or allergic reactions to plants that are not widely recognized as toxic. If a pet ingests a significant amount of Dog's tooth violet, they may experience mild gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. It is advisable to prevent pets from consuming the plant to avoid any potential discomfort.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 inches (15 cm)

    • Spread

      4 inches (10 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ecosystem Support - Erythronium dens-canis, commonly known as the Dog's tooth violet, provides an important early spring nectar source for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
    • Aesthetic Value - With its distinctive purple, pink, or white flowers and mottled leaves, Dog's tooth violet adds beauty and variety to gardens and woodland settings.
    • Biodiversity Promotion - As a native species in parts of Europe, Dog's tooth violet supports local biodiversity by fitting into the region's ecological niches and food webs.
    • Soil Improvement - Like many other plants, Dog's tooth violet can help prevent soil erosion and contributes to the structure and nutrient cycling of the soil in its native habitat.
    • Educational Interest - Dog's tooth violet can be used for educational purposes, such as teaching about native plant species, pollination, and ecological relationships in their natural environment.
    • Cultural Significance - In some regions, Dog's tooth violet has cultural and historical significance, often featuring in myths and traditions or used in festivals and celebrations.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Demulcent: Erythronium dens-canis, commonly known as dog's tooth violet, has been used for its soothing properties.
    • Emollient: The plant may have skin-soothing effects.
    • Antibacterial: There is some indication that it has been used for its potential antibacterial properties.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Erythronium dens-canis, commonly known as dogtooth violet, can be used as a food dye, where its colorful petals impart a delicate hue to desserts or specialty dishes.
    • The plant is sometimes utilized in educational settings, such as botanical studies and workshops, to help students identify and learn about various native woodland species.
    • The sturdy leaves of the dogtooth violet may serve as natural templates for art projects, such as leaf rubbing or eco-printing on fabric or paper.
    • Cultivators may use the distinctive bulb of the dogtooth violet for breeding purposes, particularly in the creation of hybrid strains of garden plants.
    • Enthusiasts of edible wild plants use the leaves of dogtooth violet in small quantities to add a unique flavor to salads and foraged meals.
    • The dogtooth violet can play a role in natural pest management, as some gardeners believe its presence may deter certain pests due to its specific soil requirements.
    • Photographers and artists often seek out the dogtooth violet for its aesthetic appeal, using its image in botanical photography and nature-inspired artwork.
    • In traditional crafts, the plant has been used to create natural dyes for textiles, with different parts of the plant yielding varying shades.
    • Some eco-friendly landscapers use dogtooth violet in "green" roof planting schemes to create visually appealing and biodiverse roof gardens.
    • Landscape restoration projects sometimes include dogtooth violets as part of efforts to re-establish native flora in areas where the ecosystem has been disrupted.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Dog's-tooth Violet is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Dog's-tooth Violet is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience – The Dog's Tooth Violet, often emerging when snow is still on the ground, is a symbol of resilience and the capacity to endure challenging conditions.
    • Rebirth and Renewal – With its flowering signaling the arrival of spring, the Dog's Tooth Violet embodies the themes of rebirth and the renewal of nature after the winter.
    • Purity and Innocence – Its delicate and unassuming flowers are often associated with purity and innocence, similar to other white or lightly-colored spring flowers.
    • Beauty and Grace – The gentle nodding of the Dog's Tooth Violet's blooms represents beauty and grace in the natural world, despite its small size and short flowering period.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    Dog's tooth violet should be watered moderately during the growing season. Ensure the soil is moist but well-drained, as this plant prefers a damp environment without being waterlogged. Water it once or twice a week, providing around half a gallon each time depending on soil conditions and climate. Reduce watering after the foliage dies back in the summer, as the plant goes dormant and requires less moisture.

  • sunLight

    Dog's tooth violet thrives in dappled sunlight, mimicking its natural woodland habitat. The best spot for this plant is in partial shade, where it can be shielded from the intense afternoon sun yet receive the morning light. Full shade is also tolerable, but too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and hinder growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    For dog's tooth violet, the ideal temperature range lies between 35°F and 75°F, maintaining a cooler climate which is typical of its woodland origins. It can survive minimum temperatures down to around 20°F, but it is less tolerant of temperatures exceeding 80°F. For best growth, keep it in an environment that's consistently within the cooler end of this range.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning dog's tooth violet generally isn't necessary as the plant has a natural growth habit that doesn't require shaping. The best time to remove any dead or damaged foliage is after the leaves have withered post-flowering. This helps to maintain plant health and redirect energy to the roots for the next growing season.

  • broomCleaning

    Not needed

  • bambooSoil

    Dog's tooth violet prefers humus-rich, well-draining soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. To create the best soil mix for this plant, combine leaf mold or well-rotted compost with loamy soil and a handful of coarse sand to improve drainage.

  • plantRepotting

    Dog's tooth violets typically do not require frequent repotting; it can be done every 3 to 5 years. They have delicate roots, so handle them with care when repotting is necessary.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Dog's tooth violets thrive in moderate humidity conditions. They do not require high humidity and are content with the natural humidity levels found in most temperate climates.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright, indirect light and cool temperatures for indoor dog’s tooth violets.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in dappled shade, fertile soil, and water regularly outdoors.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Erythronium dens-canis, commonly known as dog's-tooth violet, begins its life cycle as a bulb lying dormant underground during winter. In early spring, the bulb sends up a pair of leaves and a single flower stalk, which bears a distinctive pink to lavender flower that attracts pollinators. After pollination, the flower produces a fruit capsule containing seeds, which are dispersed by various means, including animals and gravity. Once seeds settle in a suitable location, they germinate and develop into small bulbs, which will grow and mature underground over several years. During this growth period, the bulbs accumulate resources necessary to produce the characteristic leaves and flowers in subsequent seasons. After flowering and seed production, the leaves of the plant wither, and the bulb enters a period of dormancy until the next spring cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Propogation: Erythronium dens-canis, commonly known as Dog's-tooth violet, is typically propagated through division of its bulbs. The most popular method of propagation involves the separation of the bulbs in summer, after the foliage has died back, to allow for a period of dormancy. Gardeners should carefully dig up the bulbs and gently pull apart the offsets from the mother bulb. Replanting should occur promptly to prevent the bulbs from drying out, placing them at a depth of about 3 to 4 inches (approximately 7.5 to 10 centimeters). It is important to ensure that the new planting site offers conditions similar to the plant's natural environment, typically dappled shade and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged after planting will aid in successful establishment. This method of division helps to maintain the vigour of Dog’s-tooth violet and can help in controlling the spread of this charming but potentially assertive woodland perennial.