( Vi-let )
Violets are a flexible flower! Widely cultivated for thousands of years they are used for eating and medicine; as well as a beautiful plant for decoration! Their scientific name is Viola spp from the family Violaceae.
Violets are widely considered to be a weed, as far as weeds go this is one I wouldn't mind having in my garden! Violets are available as annuals or perennials. Annuals are easily sowed by seed and perennials can also reproduce by creeping rhizomes. Violets will spread readily in the right conditions, they prefer a moist and rich soil and do best when planted in shady areas. They like cooler weather so you'll really notice them in the spring and fall. Violets make an excellent ground cover as they only grow to 12" tall at the most and spread rapidly. The flowers are pansy like in appearance and can be white, blue, yellow or purple. They also have a wonderful fragrance.
Both the leaves and flowers are edible; Leaves are most often added to punches and cold soups as a garnish, you can eat the leaves by themselves but they do make a wonderful addition to salads. Flowers can also be used in salads, as a garnish but are best when candied!
Besides being rich in vitamins A and C, they also contain a type of antioxidant called an anthocyanin. Their medicinal history shows that they have been used as an anti-inflammatory, to help with arthritis, other ailments inclue headaches, colds & coughs. Native Americans also gave Viola to women during childbirth as a Gynecological Aid. Other uses are: Stomach remedies, chest pain and sore eyes.
Unfortunately they don't make a great cut flower in bouquets as they will die quickly, however they are a wonderful addition to any garden!