Violets are adored both for their gentle fragrance and their beauty in the garden. For centuries, they have also been utilized in cooking and as an ingredient in a wide variety of products — from perfumes and soaps to medicinal home remedies.
The natural scent of violet has been largely substituted with synthetic scents in commercial products nowadays. But for home gardeners and herb enthusiasts, violets have not lost their charm.
The violet florals are frequently used as garden ornamentals. In fact, for centuries violets have been used to make exquisitely fragrant potpourris. And since the dried flowers keep their beautiful colors(if not their fragrance), they have traditionally been used for creating decorative bookmarks.
The violet is likewise popular among creative cooks, who use the edible flowers in a crystallized form on puddings, cakes, ice cream, and candy. The flowers whether fresh or candied, are also applied as a colorful and peppery-tasting garnish for salads and primary meals.
Types of Medicinal Violets
Viola tricolor (Johnny-jump-up) and Viola odorata (sweet violet) are the 2 species most usually exploited in herbal medicine. For the most part, it does not matter whether you use V. odorata or V. tricolor for healing — they’re almost exchangeable. There are a few exceptions, however:
• Viola odorata is considered a more effective expectorant than Viola tricolor.
• Viola odorata is highly recommended for chronic bronchial conditions.
• Viola odorata is believed to have more obvious effects against tumors in the lungs, breast, stomach, throat and intestines.
Growing Your Own Violets
The violet genus (Viola) is one of the more than 20 or more generea of the family Violaceae. There are 500 plus species of violets, and a lot more assortments. Most species of violets flourish in the Northern Hemisphere, and about 20 percent are indigenous to the U.S.
Violets are easy todistinguish through their small flowery "faces" and leaves, which unfurl from the base as they age. The lobes stand more or less vertical while staying inwardly curled. The lowest of the petals includes spur, which contains the sweet nectar and perfume.
Among the more popular violets, famous both for its potent healing properties and its aromatic beauty, is the sweet violet (Viola odorata). This rhizomatous perennial bears small green leaves that are heart-shaped. It grows to between 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) and may spread from 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm). The sweet violet blossom features three petals on its upper side and two below. The larger flowers or l/2-inch (13 mm) vary in color from white and pink to pale lavender, blue-purple and rose. Sweet violets develop into a rosette of foliage from which down-like runners come out and grow by the ground. They produce a springtime carpet of sweet-smelling and lovely flowers, whether inside the garden or just growing wild. A bunch of sweet violets can last between 8 and 14 years.
"The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks." -Tennessee Williams
Evans, Patricia. A modern herbal . San Francisco: Porpoise bookshop, 1961.
Bailey, L. H.. The standard cyclopedia of horticulture; . New York: Macmillan, 19281930.
McCabe, Vinton. Household homeopathy: a safe and effective approach to wellness for the whole family. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health Publications, 2005
© 5/4/2011 Athena Goodlight on Factoidz