Wildcrafting: The Common Violet (Viola Odorata)

You may have common violets growing in your own backyard. I know I do, I have them everywhere.

Although there are some toxic plants that look a little similar to the violet, they are pretty easy to identify and fun to use!

The first step to wildcrafting is getting a couple of good field guides for the plants in your area.

Two of my favorites are:

Use your field guides to properly identify your plants.

If you don’t feel confident in identifying plants yourself, you can learn a lot through wildcrafting groups.

You can find wildcrafting groups on Meetup.com or by searching local venues for weed walks and wildcrafting classes.

Other Names for The Common Violet (Viola Odorata):

The Common Violet (Viola Odorata) has several variations and many different names.

Common names include:

  • Ordinary Violet
  • Common Blue Violet
  • Sweet Violet
  • Garden Violet
  • Banaf Shah
  • Banafsaj
  • Banafshah
  • English Violet
  • Garden Violet
  • Kokulu Menekse
  • Maarts Viooltje
  • Nioi-Sumire
  • Purple Violet
  • Sweet Blue Violet
  • Violet
  • Violeta
  • Violette
  • Violette Des Jardins

The Appearance of The Common Violet:

The Common Violet has heartshaped leaves often with scalloped or slightly serrated edges are dark green, smooth or sometimes downy underneath, and grow in a rosette at the base of the plant.

Its roots are creeping and send out runners.

Depending on soil and light Violet flowers may be from deep purple or blue to pinkish or even yellow whitish.

All have 5 petals, which may have a yellow (fur) or beard on the inside of two of the petals, blooming from March to June.


Some plants can be mistaken for the Common Violet are Monk’s Hood, African Violet (houseplant), Larkspur, and Round Leaf Yellow Violet.

The rhizomes (root) can cause nausea and vomiting if eaten.

Harvesting The Common Violet

Gather Violet flowers in full bloom, leaves anytime, and rootstock in fall. Dry Violet root for later use.

Edible Uses of The Common Violet

The leaves and flowers of the Common Violet can be used in a salad, flowers made into jelly, leaves can be layered in and used in lasagna.

A word to the wise: beware of violets’ poisonous rhizomes which are not edible and should be avoided — think massively-bad-curled-up-in-bed stomachache.

Medicinal Uses of The Common Violet

You can make a syrup from violet flowers and leaves. Violet syrup is a great remedy for sore throat, coughing, and respiratory congestion. 

Large doses of Common Violet root contain an emetic alkaloid called violine which will cause vomiting.  

A decoction made from the dried violet root is used as a laxative.

Tea can be made from the entire Common Violet plant and is used to treat digestive disorders. 

Violet has been used for centuries as a medicinal remedy for headache, body pains and as a sedative. 

Recent research has detected the presence of a glycoside of salicylic acid (natural aspirin) in the Common Violet, which validates this type of medicinal use.

Violet Syrup Recipe

Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 cup packed, of fresh crushed Common Violet flowers and leaves cover and let stand for 12 hours.

Strain and squeeze through cloth, add 2 lb. of sugar and boil for 1 hour or until syrupy.

Store in a glass jar.

Give 1 tbs. -1 tsp. for children 2 or 3 times a day.  

(Recipe from  www.altanture.com.)

Violet Tea Recipe

Steep ¼ cup dried or fresh Common Violet herb in 1 cup of water for 10 min. stain, flavor to taste.

Take in ½ cup doses twice a day. 

(Recipe from www.altnature.com.) 

Note:  Dried herb produces stronger tea.


My Favorite Books for Wildcrafting & Using Herbs:

Below is a list of my favorite herb books. Enjoy!

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