One of my favorite cool weather blooming herbs is the wild violet, which is one of the earliest signs of spring’s arrival. It’s usually found in shady spots, such as under trees or alongside buildings and fences. Many people view this gorgeous flower as a pesky weed, and they work hard to eradicate it from their lawns. The way I see it, when a weed becomes useful, it’s an herb. That’s right, not only is this little flower great for pollinators and pretty to look at, but violet leaves and flowers are also edible and medicinal.
Abundant in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and magnesium, violets are a perfect spring food. You can put the leaves and/or the flowers in a raw salad, but the greens also work well as a cooked green in soups and other dishes. Many people enjoy making sweet treats like candied violets, violet jelly, and violet syrup from the flowers. Violets also make great natural decorations for cakes. Every time we harvest enough violets to make treats, our little Wildflower usually eats most of them by the time we get them in the house! I guess that’s a good problem to have.
There are many different species of violets. The ones pictured here are common blue violets (Viola sororia). The heart shaped leaves in the picture are the violet leaves.
For those who care to learn a little about herbal energetics, violets are cooling and wet, which means they are often called upon for medicinal use when there is a hot and/or dry condition (e.g. Irritating skin rashes, dry and inflamed respiratory ailments). They can be made into poultices, teas, long infusions, infused oils, salves, and extracts, and are also a great herb to include in yoni steams. Don’t know what half of those things are? Don’t worry, we can cover some of that at a later time.
Violets are an ingredient in my favorite homemade herbal salve, which I will post more about after they’ve infused with other herbs in some oil for a few weeks. You won’t want to miss that recipe!
(If you want to make the herbal salve when I post the recipe, now is a good time to harvest some violets (leaves or flowers, or both. Whatever works for you.) and let them air dry in a place out of direct sunlight. Once they are dried, you can store them in a jar or any container you have available.)