- Viola odorata L.
- Violet family
Parts Usually Used
Dried leaves and flowers; fresh rootstock
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Garden violet is a small, European, perennial plant; the creeping
rootstock sends out runners along the ground which also take root.
The leaves are basal, petioled, and cordate. The spurred, violet,
sometimes white or rose-colored, flowers grow on long peduncles, pale
violet spurs at the back; from March to May. Fruits are rounded, hairy,
Commonly cultivated and also grows wild in damp woods, shady places,
meadows, thickets, hedges, and along roadsides and the edges of woods.
Native to Europe.
Diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative, mucilaginous, antipyretic,
alterative, antiseptic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory
Salicylic acid, volatile oil, mucilage, resin, sugar, an aromatic
principle, flavonoids, a glucoside, saponins, an alkaloid called odoratine,
rich in vitamins A and C. The flower also contains an aromatic compound
called irone, and a blue pigment.
Legends, Myths and Stories
The violets have a large family tree; some 400 species, mostly perennial
but a few annual herbs.
According to Greek legend, the violet originated from the tears of
Io, a beautiful nymph whom Zeus loved. To hide Io from Hera, his jealous
wife, Zeus changed her into a white heifer. When Io cried because
the field grasses were coarse and bitter for her taste, Zeus transformed
her tears into violets to provide her a more delicate food. In Greek
burials it was the custom to cover the dead person with violets as
a symbol of both the beauty and the transitory quality of life.
As far back as 500 BC, violet herbs were used in poultice form as
a cure for surface cancer (skin cancer). Homer relates how the Athenians
used violets to moderate anger. Pliny recommended wearing a garland
of violets to prevent headaches and dizziness.
Because of his fondness for the flower, Napoleon was sometimes known
as Corporal Violet. When he was exiled on Elba, the violet became
his symbol for his supporters. Violets were strewn along the parade
route when he returned to power in Paris, after escaping from the
Garden violet is primarily an herb for respiratory problems. A tea
made from the leaves is excellent as a soothing gargle,
for sore gums, canker
sores, good for inflammations,
relieves pain of cancerous growths, as well as used as a poultice
to the back of the neck for headache.
A blood purifier, good
for treating gout, colds,
ulcers, scrofula, pleurisy,
syphilis, and difficult breathing
due to gas and morbid matter in the stomach and bowels. The flowers
lower blood pressure.
Has been used to treat blemished skin, psoriasis,
and infants' cradle cap. A decoction of the rootstock makes a good
expectorant. For inflamed mucous tissue in the mouth, rinse with a
tea made from the rootstock or the whole plant. A tea or syrup made
from the plant, especially the rootstock and the flowers, is a soothing
remedy for coughs and whooping cough. Use it also as a calming agent
for insomnia and hysterical
or nervous problems. The flowers and the seeds can be used as a mild
laxative. In large doses, the rootstock is emetic. Particularly
used to soften hard lumps and counteract cancer, swollen
Violet leaves are used in puddings, jellies, and salads; flowers
in salads or in candied form as a decorative garnish for desserts.
Formulas or Dosages
Collect the rootstock in the fall.
Infusion: steep 1 tsp. mixed plant parts in 1/2 cup water
Decoction: boil 1 tbsp. rootstock or plant parts in 1/2 cup
water. Soaking for a few hours before boiling is said to strengthen
Syrup: pour 1 qt. boiling water over an equal volume of compressed
flowers; let stand for 10 hours and strain. Heat the resulting liquid
to simmering and pour over a new batch of flowers. Let stand and strain
as before. Repeat the procedure several more times (the more the better).
Heat the final liquid, let cool, and add honey until a syrupy consistency
Rich in vitamins A and C.
Avoid very high doses, as they contain saponins, which may induce
nausea and vomiting.