This sweet little flower often gets overlooked as they play hide and seek under their large, heart-shaped leaves. Don't let their size fool you, Violet's support and medicinal qualities are larger than life - plus, they are safe for all ages! Just before the Spring Equinox, you can find them speckling the forest floor in the PNW, usually in shady, moist areas.
Violet is a gentle herb that bridges the food-medicine realms. The leaves and flowers are high in vitamin C and A, as well as other vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten fresh or cooked, and make a tasty candied treat!
They have an affinity for the lymphatic and respiratory systems, working through the mucous membranes. It still amazes me that they bloom at the time of year when those systems need a bit extra support after the winter.
They are cooling and moistening. When taken internally, violets soothe dry, inflamed tissues such as the throat and upper respiratory - perfect timing for allergies. They are also an expectorant, aiding the lungs in pushing phlegm up and out - helpful for bronchitis and whooping cough. Externally, violets are specifically helpful for eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other inflamed skin issues. And are beneficial for lymphatic massage, helping movement and drainage happen.
One of our favorite extractions is making a syrup. This is soothing for a dry, inflamed throat, assists in healthy lymphatic flow, and has the most magical quality to it! If you use blue violets, the water will turn a deep, purplish-blue. Depending what sweetener you use (we use honey), the decoction will change color slightly. Then, add some lemon juice and watch the liquid turn to bright purple!
Botanical Name: Viola adunca, V. glabella, V. sempervirens, V. beckwithii, V.douglasii, V. palustris, V. trinervata, V. odorata (all species are interchangeable)
Common Names: Violets
Parts Used: flowers, leaves
Energetics: moistening, cooling
Herbal Actions: mucilaginous, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, alterative, lymphagogue, vulnerary, anodyne Plant Uses: cools and moistens dry, inflamed tissues; supports lymphatic flow; relieves pain; soothes digestive and respiratory tracts
Preparations: infused oil, salve, tincture, decoction/tea, poultice, honey, vinegar
Contraindications: Avoid internal use with individuals who have the rare inherited disorder G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency, because it can aggravate hemolytic anemia.
To learn even more about Violets, head to the apothecary to buy March's CSA box - All About Violets. These are available for individually and when you sign up for the 12 month subscription.