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April Herb of the Month-Violet

Viola ordorata

Violet - Viola odorata

It is hard to not smile in the presence of violet. The beautiful and delicate flowers are one of our favorite early spring treats. In Iowa, they begin to pop up mid April through May. Long associated with Aphrodite, they are a symbol of love and fertility and have light, youthful, joyous energy. The flowers have a delicate and sweet fragrance and have historically been in high demand for perfume. During the Victorian era, France alone reputedly harvested six tons of flowers a year.

Along with its delicate scent, violet has wonderful medicinal properties. The leaves and flowers have traditionally been used for respiratory ailments with congestion and coughing, such as bronchitis. A syrup of the flowers is excellent for children’s coughs. It contains salicylic acid, which is similar to the pain-relieving component in aspirin, and both the leaves and flower are used to treat headaches. It is mildly sedative and is a nice addition to a gentle sleep blend.

The leaves are anti-inflammatory and, when used externally, soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. It has an affinity for the lymphatic system and can help clear blockages and restore normal flow to lymphs. It has shown promise in treatment for HIV, arthritis and cancer. An infused oil of the leaf and the essential oil can be massaged into breasts to maintain breast health and as an adjunct therapy for breast cancer.

The leaves and flowers are edible. The young leaves can be added to salads and the flowers, slightly sweet, have traditionally be candied and used decoratively. However, their delicate flavor makes a wonderful addition to many dishes. Use them in sauces, ice cream, syrups, and more.

The purple flowers appear in early spring, long before the bees are out. As such, it produces another nondescript self-pollinated flower later in the summer. Therefore, the beautiful little flowers are a spring gift just for us. Use freely and let her fill you with spring giddiness!

Violet Butter

1 large handful of fresh violet flowers 1 stick of organic butter raw honey or maple syrup lemon zest (optional)

Let the butter stand at room temperature until soft. In a bowl or electric mixer, add butter and violet flowers. Slowly add honey until taste. Gently stir until well blended. Add a dash of lemon zest. Refrigerate until ready to use. Best if made a day in advance to allow the violet to infuse the butter.

For a little taste of heaven, serve on fresh warm Lemon Scones.

Note: Go easy on the honey and add a little bit at a time. Too much sweet can take away from the delicate flavor of the violets. i often leave out the lemon zest for this reason as well. Especially, if serving with Lemon Scones.

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