Dog's tooth violet Erythronium dens-canis 'Purple King'

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


The Erythronium dens-canis 'Purple King', commonly known as the Dog's Tooth Violet, showcases a striking appearance characterized by its nodding, bell-shaped flowers which exhibit a rich purple hue, often with a gradient of color that transitions to a lighter shade of purple or lilac toward the petal edges. The inner part of each petal may be adorned with a pattern of darker purple spots or brushstrokes, adding depth and texture to the bloom. These delicate flowers boast a set of six reflexed petals that can sometimes curl back to give a more pronounced effect. At the center of the flower, one can find prominent yellow anthers, which provide an elegant contrast against the purple petals and attract pollinators. Multiple flowers may emerge from a single stem, adding to the visual impact of the plant when in bloom. The foliage of the Dog's Tooth Violet is equally attractive, typically presenting itself as a pair of lush, broad leaves that sit low to the ground. The leaves are usually a deep green, mottled with contrasting maroon or brownish patterns, giving a unique speckled appearance that is aesthetically pleasing even when the plant is not in flower. The texture of the leaves tends to be smooth and glossy, contributing an overall lushness to the plant's look. Together, the distinguished flowers and ornate foliage make the 'Purple King' a captivating and sought-after addition to shade gardens and woodland settings.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Dog's Tooth Violet, Dogtooth Violet, Trout Lily

    • Common names

      Erythronium dens-canis 'Purple King'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Dog's tooth violet is not commonly listed as a toxic plant to humans. However, as with any plant, sensitivity varies from person to person, and it might cause mild stomach upset if ingested in large quantities due to its saponin content. It is always recommended to avoid eating any part of ornamental plants. In the case of accidental ingestion, if any symptoms arise, it would be wise to consult a medical professional.

    • To pets

      Dog's tooth violet is not commonly known to be toxic to pets. However, caution is still advised, as different animals can react differently to plants. Cats and dogs might experience mild gastrointestinal upset if they ingest parts of the plant. If you suspect your pet has consumed a portion of the plant and is showing adverse symptoms, consulting a veterinarian is recommended.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      4-8 inches (10-20 cm)

    • Spread

      4-6 inches (10-15 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Adds Aesthetic Appeal: The 'Purple King' variety offers beautiful purple blooms that add color and visual interest to woodland gardens or shaded areas.
    • Attracts Pollinators: The flowers can attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, supporting local ecosystems and biodiversity.
    • Low Maintenance: Dog's tooth violet is generally easy to care for, requiring minimal upkeep once established in suitable conditions.
    • Naturalizes Easily: It can spread over time under the right conditions, creating a natural and spontaneous look within a garden setting.
    • Shade Tolerant: This plant thrives in shaded areas where other plants might struggle, making it ideal for underplanting in woodland settings.
    • Spring Bloomer: As an early spring flower, it provides one of the first bursts of color after winter, enlivening gardens at the start of the growing season.
    • Complements Other Shade Plants: It pairs well with other shade-loving plants, like ferns and hostas, creating diverse and layered plantings.
    • Seasonal Interest: Aside from its flowers, the mottled foliage also adds textural and color interest throughout its growing season.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Photography Subject: The striking appearance of the Dogtooth Violet, particularly the 'Purple King' variety, makes it a sought-after subject for botanical photographers and artists looking to capture its unique beauty.
    • Education Resource: Botany and horticulture educators can utilize the Dogtooth Violet as a living example when teaching about bulbous plants and early spring ephemerals in temperate regions.
    • Themes in Literature: Due to its distinctive and seasonally fleeting presence, the Dogtooth Violet may be used as a symbol in poetry and literature to represent themes of renewal and the ephemeral nature of life.
    • Culinary Garnish: While not widely known for culinary uses, the vibrant petals of the Dogtooth Violet could be used as an edible decoration to add visual appeal to salads or desserts, providing they are free from pesticides and considered safe to eat.
    • Companion Planting: Gardeners can plant Dogtooth Violet alongside other shade-loving perennials to create an aesthetically pleasing and diverse woodland garden display.
    • Wedding Bouquets: Due to its delicate and colorful flowers, the Dogtooth Violet can be incorporated into spring wedding bouquets as a symbol of emerging love and new beginnings.
    • Ecological Indicator: The presence of Dogtooth Violet can serve as an indicator of certain soil conditions, such as well-drained, rich soils – useful information for ecologists and conservationists.
    • Dye Production: Historically, some species of Erythronium have been utilized for their potential to create natural dyes, although the 'Purple King' is not commonly used for this purpose today.
    • Journaling and Scrapbooking: Pressed flowers of the Dogtooth Violet can be included in nature journals or scrapbooks, offering a way to preserve and showcase the plant's temporary springtime beauty.
    • Folklore and Mythology Study: The Dogtooth Violet has its place in various European folklore and mythologies, making it of interest to those studying cultural plant references and tales.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Dog's tooth violet is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The plant Dog's tooth violet is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Rebirth and renewal: Erythronium dens-canis, commonly known as Dog's tooth violet, often blooms in early spring, symbolizing the end of winter and the beginning of a new life cycle.
    • Adaptability: This plant can thrive in diverse woodland environments, representing the ability to adapt and prosper under different conditions.
    • Purity: The delicate and pure appearance of the Dog's tooth violet can be associated with innocence and clarity.
    • Humility: Its nodding flowers suggest modesty and humility, growing low to the ground and often overshadowed by taller plants.
    • Transformation: The underground bulb of the plant, shaped like a dog's tooth, signifies potential and transformation, as it turns into a beautiful flower above ground.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 3-4 years
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The Dog's Tooth Violet requires even moisture, especially during spring and fall when it is actively growing. It should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, which may result in once or twice a week watering, depending on weather conditions. Use lukewarm water to gently soak the soil around the plant until it is evenly moist, being careful not to waterlog the soil. During its dormancy in the summer, water sparingly. Generally, the plant might need approximately 1 gallon of water every week during its growing season, but always adjust based on soil moisture and weather variations.

  • sunLight

    The Dog's Tooth Violet thrives best in dappled sunlight to partial shade. Place it in a location where it can receive morning sun and afternoon shade or under the canopy of deciduous trees that provide filtered light. Avoid direct afternoon sun as it can be too intense for the plant.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Dog's Tooth Violet prefers cooler temperatures and can tolerate minimum winter temperatures down to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It grows best in a temperature range between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that the plant is not exposed to temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods, as it may cause stress to the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning is generally not necessary for the Dog's Tooth Violet, but faded flowers and yellowing leaves can be removed to maintain its appearance and prevent any potential disease spread. Pruning should be done after flowering, typically in late spring or early summer. This timing allows the plant to focus energy on bulb growth for the following season.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Dog's Tooth Violet requires moist, well-draining soil rich in organic matter, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. To create the best soil mix, combine loamy garden soil with leaf mold and a handful of grit or perlite to improve drainage.

  • plantRepotting

    Dog's Tooth Violet typically doesn't require frequent repotting as it is a perennial bulb. Replant bulbs if overcrowded every 3-4 years in the autumn to maintain plant vigour.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Dog's Tooth Violet thrives at average room humidity levels; however, they appreciate higher humidity during their growth period in the spring.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Use moist, well-draining soil and place in cool, bright indirect light.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in dappled shade with moist, organically rich soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Erythronium dens-canis 'Purple King', commonly known as Dog's tooth violet 'Purple King', begins as a bulb that lies dormant underground during the winter. As spring approaches, the bulbs develop into a rosette of lance-shaped leaves often mottled with white or pale green. Following the leafy growth, the plant produces erect, flower stalks supporting elegant, nodding blooms, usually purple or lilac in this cultivar. After pollination, typically by bees attracted to the flowers, the plant sets seeds that are dispersed to give rise to new individuals. The aerial parts of the plant die back after flowering and seed set, and the bulb enters into dormancy during the summer months. The life cycle resumes the following spring, as the bulb germinates anew to repeat the process.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Erythronium dens-canis 'Purple King', commonly known as Dog's Tooth Violet 'Purple King', is most frequently propagated through division, which is done after the foliage has died back in late summer or early autumn. To propagate by division, dig up the corms carefully, avoiding damage. Once they are unearthed, gently separate the smaller corms from the parent plant. These are often attached around the main, larger corm. Each one of these small offsets has the potential to grow into a new plant. Once separated, plant the corms at a depth of three to four inches (about 7 to 10 centimeters) in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Space the corms about 4 to 6 inches apart (10 to 15 centimeters), and water them in well to settle the soil around the roots.