Viola (Viola Odorata and Viola Tricolor) are known as sweet violets, miniature pansies, and Johnny-jump-ups. They bloom in early spring and are beautiful additions to flowerbeds. In herbal medicine, the plant is often referred to as heartsease because of its ability to strengthen blood vessels.
Violas on Payne Mountain Farms - photo by Janice Boling
The plant is often used to gently stimulate the circulatory and immune systems. Viola is known as a heart tonic and can lower blood pressure. When taking herbs for the heart, it is best to seek the advice of your healthcare professional. Most people can benefit from the cleansing properties of a viola spring-tonic but do not take viola if you have heart problems without consulting your doctor.
Violas have anti-microbial properties that are excellent treatments for skin problems like boils, abscess, skin ulcers, diaper rashes, varicose veins, and insect bites. Just mash up the leaves and apply as a poultice or make a strong tea and use as a wash.
Violas are sometimes used as a laxative and as a remedy for rheumatism. They are also used in gargles for sore throat and mouth infections. Violas are good for treating digestive conditions including stubborn urinary tract infections.
Violas may prove useful in the treatment and prevention of secondary cancer tumors. Preliminary findings suggest that violas contain substances that can help control the growth of breast and lung cancers.
Many poems make mention of the wonderful scent of viola (and violet) flowers. Herb books describe the smell as delicious and sweet. Expensive perfumes list violets as essential ingredients.
The violas in my yard do not have a floral fragrance. The blooms smell just like the leaves - not much scent at all. Who knows why my violets have lost their scent? Perhaps it is the variety or something to do with our soil.
Try floating violas in a freshly squeezed lemonade or fruit smoothie. They also make elegant cake decorations, especially when sugared.
The blooms come in many color combinations including white, lavender, purple, and every shade of blue. Viola leaves are heart-shaped and deep, rich green. The plants grow in a wide range of conditions but prefer moist, rich soil. They spread rapidly and can crowd out less vigorous plants. Let them have their way as a groundcover and they will produce a fabulous spring display.
Use the whole plant immediately in a spring tonic or dry completely and store for winter use.
* Large doses of viola may cause nausea and vomiting. Start out with small doses. Always consult with a physician before using any herbal remedy especially if you have heart problems.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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