Violet and her Virtues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANothing announces spring like the dainty yet full faces of violets sprinkling the ground in soft lavender.  Her leaves and flowers, both medicinal and edible, provide the perfect way to bring spring into the body and wave farewell to the last bits of winter chill.  In this post I’ll link to good blogs on ways to integrate violet into your life as an edible as well as a medicinal.

As far as I know, all violet species can be used similarly.  As an edible, add violet to top salads or use it as a decorative confection.  As a medicinal, violet works gently on the lymphatic system, softening hardened nodules, encouraging the flow of lymphatic fluid, and doing the necessary ‘spring cleaning’ for our bodies.  Typically, violet is infused in olive oil to use topically (and thickened with beeswax to make a salve) or prepared as a tea (fresh leaves and flowers).  At the apothecary, we use violet along with red cedar and calendula to make a topical breast balm for fibrocystic, lumpy, and/or painful breasts.

And, although many people say that a tincture prepared from violet is not worth the trouble, I have heard otherwise.  When I was down in New Orleans giving a lecture, one of the participants told me about how violet turned her onto the plant path.  She went to see a naturopath about at hardened nodule in the throat area of her neck.  The naturopath gave her violet tincture to take and the hardened nodule dissolved.  It was this experience that led her to explore herbal medicine.  And, I actually think she just opened up an herb shop down there as well!

To find violet, look in areas that are near water and partly shaded.  This is where violets thrive.  And, fortunately, many species of violet show off their colors with an early spring flower that is not seed-bearing.  The seed-bearing flower comes later in the year, is lower to the ground, and is green in color typically.  So, when we harvest violet flowers, we are affecting its ability to reproduce.

Inspiration for a spring wild green salad

Violet can be used with other spring weeds and culinary herbs to make a spring green drink

Violet flowers make a lovely deep purple syrup

An herbalist from the UK writes two lovely posts here and here on her work (and play) with violet

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