Viola odorata

Other Names: Ordinary violet, Common blue violet, Sweet violet, Garden violet

violets pictureHabitat   Violets are European perennials. They are now naturalized throughout North America, and can be found growing in most any soil or situation. CultivationViolets are easily cultivated through root cuttings or seeds. With over 900 species, plant identification to the exact is an expertise in itself. However all have practically the same medicinal and edible herb values.

Description The heart shaped leaves often with scalloped or slightly serrated edges are dark green, smooth or sometimes downy underneath, and grow in a rosette at the base of the plant. Roots are creeping and send out runners. Depending on soil and light the flowers may be from deep purple or blue to pinkish or even yellow whitish. All have 5 petals, which may have a yellow (fur) or beard on the inside of two of the petals, blooming from March to June. Gather flowers in full bloom, leaves anytime, and rootstock in fall. Dry root for later use.

 violet at Dover Nature Trail in TennesseeProperties  Medicinal and edible, the flowers and leaves of viola are made into a syrup used in alternative medicine mainly for respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat. Flowers are also edible and used as food additives for instance in salad, made into jelly, and candied for decoration. Large doses of the root contain an alkaloid called violine which is emetic (causing vomiting). A decoction made from the root (dry herb) is used as a laxative. Tea made from the entire plant is used to treat digestive disorders and new research has detected the presence of a glycoside of salicylic acid (natural aspirin) which substantiates its use for centuries as a medicinal remedy for headache, body pains and as a sedative. The plants constituents are being studied and show these uses to be valid. Eugenol, Ferulic-acid, Kaempferol, Quercetin, Scopoletin, also show promise in the treatment of many kinds of cancer, arthritis, AIDS, gum disease and more. Used externally the fresh crushed leaves reduce swelling and soothe irritations. As a bath additive the fresh crushed flowers are soothing to the skin and the aroma is very relaxing.Folklore  The Ancient Greeks considered the Violet a symbol of fertility and love, they used it in love potions. Pliny recommended that a garland of them be worn about the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells.

RecipesSyrup: Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 cup packed, of fresh crushed flowers and leaves cover and let stand for 12 hours. Strain and squeeze through cloth, add 2 lb. of sugar and boil for 1 hour or until syrupy. Store in glass jar. Give 1 tbs. -1 tsp. for children 2 or 3 times a day.

Tea: Steep ? cup dried or fresh herb in 1 cup of water for 10 min. stain, flavor to taste. Take in ? cup doses twice a day.

Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron

Violet Herb Photos by Karen Bergeron Copyright 2000

Next > Watercress