Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet, or Viola odorata, is a fantastic and beautiful little plant that I discovered in my backyard very early on in our time here in our home. It is a creeping perennial that grows 6-10 inches tall and 12-18 inches across. With toothed, heart-shaped leaves and violet-blue 5-petaled flowers, it is relatively easy to identify. It likes partly shaded areas with moist, well-drained soil but can tolerate full sun in cool summer areas. Blooms in late winter or early spring. Here in Zone 8, they start blooming mid-to-late January and early February, depending on the winter weather.

Violet is native to many parts of Europe and Asia but naturalized in other parts of the world, including the United States. Along with Goldenrod, Honeysuckle, and Blackberries, this lady is one of the most plentiful plants on the land where I live in East Texas. She is easily found on roadsides and in wooded areas. The flowers and leaves are collected in the spring, while the roots are harvested in the fall.

My backyard is full of oak trees, and even through the dense layer of dead leaves, I can easily find dark green heart-shaped leaves peeking out along with purple-blue flowers. The foliage is evergreen, with slightly toothed, heart-shaped leaves that are a little fuzzy and grow in a basal rosette low to the ground. The flowers, with 5 petals, bloom on taller, leafless stems. Only one flower grows per stem, and the ‘seed pods’ hanging down on single stems look kinda like dark bell peppers.

Propagated by seed or division, the plants are spread by runners and multiply at a decent rate once established. Cut runners and prune off spindly growth in the late fall for prettier/healthier plants come spring if you are cultivating them in your garden or flower beds. I haven’t had to personally do this. They are actually very intrusive where I live, and I frequently have to pull them out of my flower beds. They freely grow in the yard, however, and are plentiful in areas where they are established.

A picture I took of a pile of freshly harvested Violet flowers.


  • phenolic glycosides (including gaultherin)
  • saponins (myrosin and violin)
  • flavonoids
  • odoratine alkaloid
  • mucilage (Like in Mallow, the mucilage makes it very useful for treating coughs and other respiratory issues.)

Leaves and flowers are a great source of Vitamins A and C.
Eat raw or mixed in a salad or green smoothie.

“Violine,” a compound found in violets, is an ’emeto-cathartic’ in large doses, which means it can make you purge from both ends, but this is very rare. You would have to consume a very large amount to bring about this side effect.

The following bulleted info I found here. I am not affiliated in any way with the website.
• There are sweet violets and dog violets, the latter having no scent. Both types have heart-shaped leaves.
• Scented violets are less commonly seen in the wild than the scentless varieties. Of the former, the whole plant is scented, not just the flower.
• Of the dog violets, the North American violet Viola cucullata, or purple violet, is bigger, later, and disappears completely in winter. Viola labradorica ‘Purpurea’ has purple leaves, a good complement to its paler petals. Both are ideal for wilder spaces as they can be invasive.
• Violets thrive in woodlands and on rough ground; they will grow in your garden if you can give them the right conditions.
• Like wild strawberries, they make easy ground cover, spreading through runners, which easily take root. They make a very traditional (and charming) companion to roses.
• While people bemoan the diminishing prevalence of violets in the wild (those who are not overrun with them at home), it is easy to create your own colony, making a deposit on the future of the species.

Dog violet, Viola canina, has about the same uses as V. odorata. The Chinese violet, V. yedoens, is used in Chinese Traditional Medicine for hot swellings and tumors, mumps, and abscesses.

Heartsease, aka Wild Pansy, Viola tricolor, is closely related but is used in different ways, but that is a different post for a different day.

A scraggly Violet plant I tried to transplant into my garden when I first discovered them. It did not survive. Wild is best for me, and now it is actually invasive when it comes to my garden.

A ground-level view of an established Violet patch living amongst other flora in my yard. The dark green on the left side is a Violet leaf, not the thin blades of grass growing up between the flowers.

The two images below are violet plants that have not flowered yet in my backyard. Even amongst the other flora, the heart-shaped leaves are very easy to distinguish once you know what you are looking at.

Although the plants are rabbit and deer resistant, they can suffer from slugs, snails, red spider mites, violet gall midge, pansy leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Many of these issues can be rampant in chronically moist or highly humid areas, especially mildew. Wild violets don’t tend to suffer from these issues nearly as much as cultivated violets, in my experience, even if in moist/humid areas. I’ve never had any issues with my wild-growing Violets, and they tend to be the prettiest plants growing in my yard, with very few blemishes.

Now for my favorite part: Flowers, leaves, and roots of Violet plants can all be used medicinally! Also, try the flowers fresh or candied for a treat. Violet flower syrup can even be used to spruce up pancakes…later mentioned, Buckwheat pancakes and Violet syrup are a great combo to help varicose veins.

” All the violets are cold and moist while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly.”

Nicholas Culpepper, 17th Century Herbalist

Flowers and leaves have gentle expectorant (makes coughs productive) and demulcent (relieves inflammation or irritation) properties and induce light sweating. Often made into infusions or syrup for treating coughs, chest colds, and congestion. The root is a much stronger expectorant and, at higher doses, is emetic (induces vomiting), so be warned. In British herbal medicine, Violet is used to treat breast and stomach cancer.

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Unless experienced in the use of this plant and have some herbalism experience/knowledge, I would personally suggest that you don’t use the root. The leaves and flowers are amazing and safe enough in times of need for inexperienced users without any ill effects that you may not need the root.

Knowledge is power.

Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins that prevent blood from flowing backward don’t work properly. Blood forms pools, and where this occurs, the veins and nearby capillaries become distended and swollen, leaking blood and fluid into surrounding tissue. This condition occurs most frequently in the legs; in areas where veins are near the surface, it cases unsightly bluish streaks, trails or spidery markings.

The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D., page 445

Violet flowers contain generous amounts of a compoud called rutin, which helps maintain the strength and integrity of capillary walls. Medical texts say that taking 20 to 100 milligrams of rutin daily can significantly strengthen the capillaries.

The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D., page 446

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If you liked today’s post, please like, subscribe, and do all the things to stay up-to-date when I post. This post is part of an ongoing series, One Moon Herbal Study, that will not be complete until February 2024. All my links can be found at the bottom of the page. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I will do my best to answer.

Many blessings,
Emma Lee Joy


8 thoughts on “Sweet Violet

    1. Yes, I’m about to start working on getting supplies to make more products. I’m thinking of changing 4theBeautyOfLOVE into Red Hawk Ridge Apothecary 😀
      I have enough left that I can get you a roller bottle. They are $12 atm. Price will most likely go up once I get everything back up and running.

      Liked by 1 person

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