By Colleen Chafe
There are so many varieties of Viola, which is the Latin name of Violets.
Not to be confused with the tropical African violets, they are also known as Wild Pansy.
Viola is a nutritious remedy that has antioxidants, flavonoids, minerals and phytonutrients that make it good medicinal food.
Viola leaves and flowers are edible, and the fresh variety is preferred even for tincture and tea purposes, but the dried leaves are also used. The flower is too delicate to be used dried.
Use all species of Viola in the same way because they have similar plant constituents.
For medicinal use, the wild varieties of Viola are preferred over the cultivated garden varieties.
Caution: Correct Plant Identification is important. When in doubt buy herbs instead of wild-crafting, or cultivate your own.
- Viola odorata—Sweet blue violet
- Viola tricolour—Heartease (commonly known as Wild pansies and Johnny jump-ups).
- Flowers, leaves picked in spring to summer—best if eaten fresh.
- Central nervous system, nerves, cardiovascular, lungs, lymphatic, skin
- Nutritive antioxidant
- Respiratory system—cough, bronchitis, colds, flu, HBP
- Nervous system—relaxant, pain, tranquilizer
- Skin—eczema treatment
- Diaphoretic, secretolytic expectorant, depurative, antineoplastic, nutritive, lymphatic, hypotensive, relaxant, nervine
- Essential oils
- Flavonoids: anthocyanidins, violaquercetin, methyl salicylate, salicylic acid; saponins, alkaloids, mucilage, tannins
- Minerals: calcium, magnesium
- Heartsease is high in saponins. Prolonged full dose may cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Best used in a formulation if taken for long periods.
- Dosage: Best eaten fresh or used fresh in a tincture 1-5 ml best used in a formulation.
- Infusion: 8-16 g up to 8 flowers in a cup
Viola Flower Honey Recipe
Flower scented honey was very popular in Victorian times in England and violet honey was a favourite.
Use flavoured honey as a spread, for tea, mead, wine, to flavour sauces and desserts, and anyway that you would use honey. It is delicious, nutritious, and it is simple and easy to make. Just don’t overdo it.
1 cup honey
½ cup of sweet violet petals
Pour 1 cup of honey in a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl that is set on top of a pot of simmering water. Warm honey on low heat and stir in violet flowers. Cover and heat on low for ½ hour. Turn off heat and let cool slightly. Remove from heat and leave the honey to infuse, covered for a week or pour it in a mason jar.
After letting it marinate for a week slowly warm the honey again in the double boiler or a bowl over a simmering pan of water on low heat. (Do not overcook!) The warm honey will make it easier to pour. Strain out the flowers with a fine mesh strainer and pour the honey back into the jar.
Label the jar, or use a honey pot, and it makes about 1 cup of flavoured Violet honey.
Rosemary is a popular breakfast preserve.
Infuse 4 springs of rosemary in 1 cup of honey.
Colleen Chafe is a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, nutritionist, natural health practitioner and gardener. Visit her website.
Bibliography on Violet and Violet honey:
The Herb Bible, Peter McHoy, Pamela Westland, Quarto publishing 1994.
The Energetics of Western Herbs, Peter Holmes, Lotus press 1998.
The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman, Element books 1997.