The Many Uses of Violet:
A Round-Up of Herbal Resources & Recipes
Written by Meghan Gemma
Photography by Juliet Blankespoor (except where credited)
When it comes to flowers, it doesn’t get much sweeter than soft springtime violets. With nodding blossoms atop slender stems and heart-shaped leaves, these low-growing plants are sometimes described as diminutive. But please don’t presume they’re shrinking! In fact, violets are a powerhouse of mineral-rich food and medicine.
Does this quintessential bloom speak to your heart? Many folks are deeply drawn to violets, and for a rainbow of good reasons. Here, we’ve compiled a library of articles on violet’s cleansing, moistening, and anti-inflammatory medicine, plus a handful of spirited seasonal recipes and indispensable identification tips.
Violet: A Springtime Medicinal
Although violet is a wildly common herb, it’s somewhat underrepresented in edible and medicinal circles. The truth is, violet is one of our finest and most delicious cooling and moistening herbs—perfect for folks who run dry, experience skin issues like eczema, or seasonally want to cleanse and revitalize their tissues after a long, cold winter.
Violet’s Edible and Medicinal Uses This is our personal ode to the healing food-medicine of violet. Uncover our favorite ways to eat and imbibe this tasty ally.
Gentle Spring Cleansing with Violet Curious how to cleanse with the wild herbs of spring? This is our guide to deep and gentle restoration with violet.
Violet Herb by jim mcdonald. A wonderfully thorough treatise on violet’s medicinal qualities, with a special nod to its herbal energetics.
Three Faces Under a Hood: The Many Aspects of Violet by Kiva Rose Hardin. Another enchanting violet profile, with a fascinating dose of herbal lore and floral poetry stirred into the mix.
Violet is one of my very favorite springtime wild foods. The young leaves are tender, delicious, and rich in minerals and soluble fiber. The flowers are a bright splash of color atop cakes, breakfast toast, and green salads. Their purple petals are packed with antioxidant bioflavonoids. We could hardly ask for a more nourishing wild spring green!
Violet Springtime Fairy Vinegar: A Mineral-Rich Spring Tonic Our recipe for crafting a whimsical and mineral-rich herbal vinegar for spring cleansing, seasonal nutrition, or good old-fashioned culinary fun.
Wild Greens Bagel A simple staple from our kitchen that easily integrates violets and other seasonal wild greens right into your breakfast or lunch.
Calendula’s Benefits for the Skin: How to Make Calendula Oil and Salve You’ll notice that this recipe actually features calendula, but you can just substitute violet leaves in for the calendula, or combine them for a soothing, skin-healing remedy.
Wild Violet Ardor: Whipped Honey Butter by Gather. Read about the romantic legacy of violet while whipping up a buttery-sweet floral treat. The folks at Gather are unparalleled in sharing a great herbal story alongside the most magical recipes you can imagine!
Wild Violets 4 Ways: Simple Syrup, Tincture, Candies and Lemonade by Amanda Waters of Homesong. Don’t miss this bouquet of spring recipes featuring violet! For a good time, I especially recommend experiencing the alchemy of wild violet syrup (followed up by making a glass of pale purple violet lemonade).
Violet Botany & Identification
When it comes to gathering wild plants, I recommend being 150% sure of your identification before harvesting or nibbling. Violets actually have many look-alikes, some of which are inedible or poisonous. If you’re new to violets, please only harvest them when the flowers are present (this helps immensely with i.d.). You’ll also want to reference a reliable plant identification guide when gathering any wild edible or medicinal herb. You can use this book list for my personal recommendations. The following resources will help you along:
An Illustrated Guide to Identifying Violet, designed by Dina Falconi and illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Seeking a beautifully illustrated guide to identifying violet? Look no further, this is it!
Violets, Violas with Green Deane. Join this wild foods expert in the field on YouTube as he explains how to identify violet.
Even Violets Need a Plan B Our exposé on the secret subterranean lives of violets. Intrigued? You’ll have to read the article to get the full scoop.
Meet Our Contributors:
MEGHAN GEMMA is one of the Chestnut School’s primary instructors through her written lessons, and is the principal pollinator of the school’s social media community—sharing herbal and wild foods wisdom from the flowery heart of the school to an ever-wider field of herbalists, gardeners, healers, and plant lovers.
She has been in a steady relationship with the Chestnut School since 2010—as an intern and manager at the Chestnut Herb Nursery; as a plant-smitten student “back in the day” when the school’s programs were taught in the field; and later as a part the school’s woman-powered professional team. Meghan lives in the Ivy Creek watershed, just north of Asheville, North Carolina.
JULIET BLANKESPOOR founded the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in 2007 and serves as the school’s primary instructor and Creative Director. She's been a professional plant-human matchmaker for close to three decades. Juliet caught the plant bug when she was nineteen and went on to earn a degree in Botany. She's owned just about every type of herbal business you can imagine: an herbal nursery, a medicinal products business, a clinical practice, and now, an herbal school.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession with her writing and photography in her online programs and here on her personal blog, Castanea. She's writing her first book: Cultivating Medicinal Herbs: Grow, Harvest, and Prepare Handcrafted Remedies from Your Home Garden. Juliet and her houseplants share a home with her family and herb books in Asheville, North Carolina.
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