The common violet (Viola odorata) belongs to Violaceae family that consists of more than 450 species.
Its species are native to tropical and subtropical regions, as well as to the north and south temperate zones spreading to Tierra del Fuego, South-Africa and New Zeeland. Some of the species in the Andes mountain range grows at 4600 m.
The leaves of violets are diversified; they often form a rosette of leaves. Some species have lanceolate leaves, while others wide, pinnate or escutcheon-formed ones. Those growing in high mountains are small, leathery, angular, and often scute-like.
It has a scented flower composed of five petals, the middle one weeping download. The flower contains volatile oils, while the leaves contain mucous substances. The two long stamens stretch to the middle of the lower petal. The pistil is split in many ways; might be broadened or cored out. When it does not flower at all, automatic self-pollination happens (cleistogamy).
Most of the species are perennial herbaceous plants, some sub-shrubs and one group of biennial herbaceous plant.
Just like the other violet species, the flowers of common violet are pollinated by insects. When the bugs come to collect nectar, they move the stamens and the pollen falls on them. The type of bug visiting the flower depends on the length of spur. It can be very short (for instance the yellow violet (Viola biflora)), but also very long, such as the flower of Viola calcarata.
The parts above the ground contain volatile oils; the rhizome is rich in methyl-salacilate, saponine and mucous substances. The plant itself contains tannins, flavonoides and a small quantity of volatile oil (with salicil acid methyl ester content), as well as L-ascorbic acid.
An ancient Greek mythology originates the Latin name of violet from Io. The king of gods, Zeus fell in love with a virgin called Io. In order to protect the girl from the anger of his wife, he changed her into a heifer grazing on a violet field. That is why the violet became the symbol of love and fertility.
Another Greek legend tells how these fragile flowers became to world: they appeared in the footprints of Persephone, the goddess of spring. It seems to be a very logical explanation, since violets grow from March, the beginning of spring. There are commemorating fests for example in Bretagne (France), where people plant violet in order to call forth spring.
There is a saying “modest like a violet”. These small flowers hiding in the woods, scrublands, gardens fascinate us with their scent, beauty and curative effects. Modesty refers only to their appearance.
Traditional names for violet: violetta, pretty violet, Venus-flower.
Collect violet flowers and leaves separated. Do not mix stem and root when wildcrafting common violet. The rhizome is picked in February, March or autumn. We pick the flowers when they fully blossom.
It can be used for all kind of acute and chronic respiratory diseases, cough and catarrh or bronchitis. The tea is a remedy in case of sleeping disorders, over-excitement, and heartache combined with anxiety or hysteria.
It tempers cough, it works as a natural expectorant. It can also be used externally for skin diseases – for instance: cracked skin and breast.
Infusion: Put 1 teaspoon of dried flower in boiling water for 10 minutes. Consume 3 cups daily.
Decoction: Boil 3 g of dried violet rhizome in 150 ml of water for 3 minutes. Strain it in 30 minutes, sweeten and consume 1 spoonful 4 times daily for 2-3 weeks.
Syrup: Mix 100 g dried violet flowers and 500 g sugar in 300 g water.
Tincture: Macerate 10 g of violet green and 10 g of thyme in 250 g alcohol for a couple of days. Take 10-20 drops on a sugar cube daily in case of the diseases mentioned above.
Candied violet petals: Take one egg-white and whip it. Put the violet petals into the whip, then into powder sugar. Dry them at a hot space and keep it in closed bottles.
Special violet cream: Heat up 2.5 dl cream with 10 dkg sugar and add a handful of fresh violet petals. Strain it in 15 minutes. Mix 6 egg yolks in 7.5 dl cream and add to it slowly the cream with violet. Boil on steam to get a thick cream, and then add 25 g of gelatin and whip of 4 egg-whites. Pour it into glasses and decorate with violet petals.