Monday, 21 October 2013

Viola odorata

In north Idaho where I live, these bright purple flowers are one of the first spring colors that appear amongst the grass. These low growing perennial plants have heart shaped green leaves and are found in moist meadows. To gather violet flowers simply reach under the blossom and pinch off near the stem near the base where the stem and blossom meet. Dry on a paper plate or basket with a tight weave for later use. Be sure to harvest these tender flowers in places that have not been sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides. The dried flowers and leaves increase circulation and have heart healing powers. A tea preparation soothes irritated throats and makes an antiseptic mouth rinse. Due to the natural salicylic acid it contains mild pain reliving abilities. To make a tea simply steep 1 teaspoon of dried flowers in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. I like the delicate scent and gently sweet taste of the tea that encourages me to slow down and smell the violets. Violets provided food for colonial Americans and have been gathered for food, medicine, and perfume for generations in Europe. Violet flower water was a popular perfume in the 1400-1600’s with the scent noted to bring comfort and strengthen the heart. In the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia violet flowers are suggested as a topical treatment for eczema. These vibrant purple sweet fragrant fresh flowers provide festive color when added to springtime salads, as a finish for your favorite dessert, or a garnish on top of quinoa pilaf. Float a few violets in your favorite white wine or white grape juice for your springtime guests. The fresh heart shaped leaves can be gathered and added to a vegetable stir-fry or steamed greens.

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