Viola odorata, commonly known as sweet violet is a lovely edible flower. These flowers are hardy perennials. There are over 500 different species in the viola family. For herbal and culinary usages use only viola odorata.
Viola odorata (sweet violet) is found temperate regions. It is native to South and West Europe and Asia. This plant grows to be about 15 cm (6 in.) tall. It has somewhat heart-shaped leaves.
The leaves and flowers of sweet violet are edible.
Crystallized sweet violet flowers make gorgeous cake decorations.
Flowers and leaves can be used as a garnish or you can add them to salads.
Sweet violet syrup is super easy to make. It also makes an awesome gift for someone special.
Use the syrup on pancakes, ice cream or whatever you like.
Many also enjoy drinking sweet violet tea.
Never use violets that may have been sprayed with pesticides.
Some claim that sweet violet is a valuable aid to treat cancer of the breast, lungs and stomach. There are researchers testing the anti-cancer effects of sweet violet. For the time being scientists cannot be certain of the matter.
The herb is antiseptic and would be good to use when making homemade soap.
This plant is popular to use in aromatherapy.
Sweet Violet in In History, Folklore and Legend
Sweet violet has a long history. We know that sweet violet was sold at the market in Ancient Greece around 400 B.C.
In Ancient Rome violet wine was extremely popular. Horace (Roman poet 65-8 B.C.) expressed a deep concern about his fellow Romans when he complained that the farmers seemed to care more about growing violets than the vital olives.
Not only did they enjoy sweet violet wine, they would sometimes wear a wrath made of violets. Wearing violets when drinking wine would supposedly help reduce the discomforts associated with intoxication.
Violets and laurel are the national flower emblems of Greece.
Sweet violet flowers were associated with love in Ancient Greece and Rome.
The flower was connected to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
In Rome Aphrodite was known as the goddess Venus.
The Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – 18 AD) wrote that Persephone was out gathering violets when Hades (ruler of the Underworld) kidnapped her. Persephone was to be his wife and Queen of the Kingdom of the dead.
William Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet about violets when referring to Ophelia:
“Lay her in the earth: And from her fair and unpolluted flesh May violets spring!”
It is told that Josephine (the first wife of Napoleon) loved violets. Napoleon loved Josephine and therefore naturally violets became his favorite flower. When he died he was wearing a locked containing violets and a lock of Josephine’s hair. The violets had been picked from the grave of Josephine.
Legend has it that Valentine crushed violets found right outside his prison cell and used the sap as ink when writing his legendary messages.
Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin have all chosen the violet as the State Flower.
An old superstition claims that if you see sweet violets in your dream it is a sign of prosperity heading your way.
The English botanist, Reverend John Lightfoot wrote that some people in Scotland recommended violets and goat milk to women seeking flawless skin:
“Anoint thy face with goat’s milk in which violets have been infused and there is not a young prince on earth who would not be charmed by thy beauty.”
In the book “Diary of a Farmer’s Wife 1796-1797” by Anne Hughes it is instructed that a good cure for a grouchy husband is to serve him violet pudding.