Facts About Wild Violets

Overview

Everyone is familiar with the lowly but lovely wild violet. Its flower color is most often purple, but may also be blue, white or yellow. The violet is the state flower of Illinois, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

Types

Native wild violets include the blue violet which has heart-shaped leaves; the bird's foot violet which has leaves in a claw shape; the downy yellow violet which has hairy leaves; and the Confederate violet, so called because its grayish-white flower resembles the blue of Confederate uniforms.

Flowers

The violet flower has two petals at the top, two at the side, and one striped petal at the bottom. The stripes on the lowest petal are like a "landing pad" for bees to guide them into the heart of the flower for pollination.

Violet Relatives

Most varieties of the wild violet have no odor; its European cousin Viola odorata is sweet-smelling and frequently used in the manufacture of perfume. Another relative, the pansy, is also fragrant and commonly used as a bedding plant.

Uses

The flower of the violet is edible and can be used as a garnish, provided it has not been treated with any herbicide. The violet had the folk name "heal-all" and contains salicylic acid, a pain-killing ingredient in aspirin.

Violets as Weeds

The violet is sometimes considered a pesky weed because it can be very difficult to eradicate in a lawn. It has a dense system of roots and spreads both underground and by seeding.

References

  • "Botanica North America"; Marjorie Harris; 2003
  • University of Massachusetts Extension
Keywords: wild violets, violet relatives, violet uses

About this Author

Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.