Violet properties

Health benefits of violet (Viola odorata L.)

Characteristics of common violet

Common English name:Common violet, sweet violet, heartsease, pansy, wild violet, love-in-idleness.

Common name in other languages:

Ver foto y ficha botánica

Illustration of the plant with roots, leaves and flowers

– Spanish / español: pensamiento, trinitaria, pincel, suegras y nueras.

– French / Français: Violette, flor de mars

– Catalan / Català: Viola

– Basque /Euskara: Bioleta

– Galego /Galician: Viola, violeta

– Portuguese / Português: Víolas-roxas, violetas-de-cheiro

– Italian / Italiano: Violetta, mammolina, viola mammola

– Romanian / Română:Toporaşi

– Maygar / Hungarian: Illatos ibolya

– Dutch /Nederlands: Maarts viooltje

– German / Deutsch: Duftveilchen, Wohlriechendes Veilchen, Märzveilchen

– Polish /Polski: Fiołek wonny

– Danish / Dansk: Martsviol

– Norwegian /Norsk bokmål: Marsfiol

– Finnish /Suomi: Tuoksuorvokki

– Swedish /Svenska: Luktviol

– Russian / Русский: Фиалка душистая

Scientific name: Viola tricolor L.

Etymology: The scientific name of the genus “Viola” comes from Latin, which in turn, comes from the Greek word “Io“. In mythology, “Io” was Jupiter’s lover. Jupiter’s wife was jealous of Io, so Jupiter protected her by turning her into a calf that fed on the meadow. So that “Io” could feed well, Jupiter created the violets.

The name of the species “odorata” (= odor) comes from the Latin and refers to the very characteristic intense aroma that this violet produces.

Family: Violaceae – Violet Family

Origin: Coming from Europe, it lives mainly under the trees of the forests of this continent and in North Africa, the Canaries and the Caucasus. It needs a certain humidity to be able to live adequately, so it prefers shady areas both under the trees and next to sunny walls. orchards, edges of the roads or between the lawn grass, preferably on calcareous soils. It has been introduced as an ornamental plant in North America and Australia.

Habitat: uncultivated land, fields, etc.. In gardening hybrid varieties are grown for ornamental purposes.

Common violet  description

Photo of common violet

Photo of common violet

Annual or biennial plant with a woody stem till 15 cm high.Barely visible stems from a fleshy root, with stoloniferous buds.

Leaves in rosette, largelly pedunculated, heart-shaped. Peduncles of the leaves with long hairs bent towards the ground.

Dark violet (sometimes white) flowers up to 2 cm in length, located at the end of long peduncles that sprout from the armpits of the leaves. They have 5 petals, two of which stand out for growing vertically. It also differs from the rest of the violets by having a style in the form of a hook. It blooms from mid-winter to early spring (late February to April) being the month of March when it can be found in greater abundance, hence that French, Dutch or German is also known as March flower.

Numerous fruits in capsules

Curiosities of common violet

Both the legendary origin of the violet, and its peculiar smell, has been transcendental in turning it into a symbol of love.

There have been many lovers who have shown their love by giving their beloved some violets. The aroma of violet has also been used to create filters of love, with which the beloved woman could be conquered.

Violet plant composition

The components and active principles of the plant are the following:

  • Acids: ferulic, sinapic (Plant) Malic (Flowers) octenoic, octyl, palmitic, propionic, salicylic (Leaves)
  • Essential oils (0.04%) (mainly in the roots): Methyl salicylate, salicylic acid esters, nanadienal, nonadienol, octodienol, benzyl alcohol, eugenol, parmona.
  • Flavonoids: quercetin, anthocyanin pigments (delphidin glycoside), rutoside or rutin, carotenoids
  • Alkaloids: scopoletin (Plant), odoratin (Roots), violin (Flowers and roots)
  • Saponins (Roots)
  • Mucilages (Plant)
  • Beta-sistosterol (Plant)

Used parts of the violet

As a medicinal plant, flowers are used mainly in infusions or syrups. You can also use the leaves.

The leaves of this are edible and are used both in natural medicine and in food.

Violet should be used with caution, in appropriate doses, to avoid its emetic effects

Medicinal properties of common violet

Traditional uses

Traditionally the plant has been widely used since ancient times. The Greeks used it internally as a cardiotonic, to eliminate discomfort or for body purifying in cases of gout. Externally, it has been use for the belly pain or wound healing.

Cullpeper (1616-1654), apothecary, astrologer and physician in London, wrote about all the violets:

“Both the tame and the wild are so well known, that they need no description.

Time.] They flower until the end of July, but are best in March and the beginning of April.

Government and virtues.] They are a fine pleasing plant of Venus,, of a mild nature, no way harmful. All the Violets are cold and moist while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat, or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as inflammations in the eyes, in the matrix or fundament, in imposthumes also, and hot swellings, to drink the decoction of the leaves and flowers made with water in wine, or to apply them poultice-wise to the grieved places: it likewise eases pains in the head, caused through want of sleep; or any other pains arising of heat, being applied in the same manner, or with oil of roses. A dram weight of the dried leaves or flower of Violets, but the leaves more strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours, and assuages the heal, being taken in a draught of wine, or any other drink; the powder of the purple leaves of the flowers, only picked and dried and drank in water, is said to help the quinsy, and the falling-sickness in children, especially in the beginning of the disease.

The flowers of the white Violets ripen and dissolve swellings. The herb or flowers, while they are fresh, or the flowers when they are dry, are effectual in the pleurisy, and all diseases of the lungs, to lenify the sharpeness in hot rheums, and the hoarseness of the throat, the heat also and sharpness of urine, and all the pains of the back or reins, and bladder. It is good also for the liver and jaundice, and all hot agues, to cool the heat, and quench the thirst; but the syrup of Violets is of most use, and of better effect, being taken in some convenient liquor: and if a little of the juice or syrup of lemons be put to it, or a few drops of the oil of vitriol, it is made thereby the more powerful to cool the heat, and quench the thirst, and gives to the drink a claret wine colour, and a fine tart relish, pleasing to the taste.

Violets taken; or made up with honey, do more cleanse and cool, and with sugar contrary-wise. The dried flower of Violets are accounted amongst the cordial drinks, powders, and other medicines, especially where cooling cordials are necessary. The green leaves are used with other herbs to make plaisters or poultices to inflammations and swellings, and to ease all pains whatsoever, arising of heat, and for the piles also, being fried with yolks of eggs, and applied thereto. “

Medicinal properties of Viola odorata

Violet (Viola odorata L.) is a medicinal plant of the same family as pansy. It has emollient and antitussive properties (mainly contributed by its mucilages), sudorific and anti-inflammatory (because of salicylic acid).

The plant is mainly used for its flowers, which are a traditional remedy for respiratory diseases, both in infusion and in syrup. The root is also used, with emetic properties, and the leaves, as an edible plant.

Violet flowers are also used in phytotherapy, along with other medicinal plants, to give aroma and color to many preparations.

Violet internal use herbal preparations

Common violet for respiratory diseases

Common violet flowers

Common violet flowers

Common violet, mainly by its content in mucilage, has soothing, antitussive and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, its content in saponins confer expectorant properties, whereas salicylic acid gives analgesic properties.

This same component along with methyl-salicylate, eugenol and beta-sisosterol are responsible for the antipyretic properties, son it can reduce fever. Malic-acid and quercetin provide it with bacteriostatic properties that prevent the growth of bacteria. All this cocktail of properties is particularly used to fight many diseases of the respiratory system, especially in regard to the following anomalies:

  • Bronchitis: The properties of the violet are very suitable in case of bronchitis to help the body expel secretions, reduce inflammation and soothe coughing. (Three tablespoons of dried roots per liter of water for 20 minutes. Take 4 tablespoons a day.) (Decoction for a couple of minutes of 1 tablespoon of dried flowers per cup of water. 2 cups a day) (Decoction of 50 g dried root per liter of water for about 10 minutes. Take three cups a day, sweetened with honey)
  • Cough: The bechic properties of violet make it well suited to combat coughs, either dry or productive cough. (Infusion of a half teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. A couple of cups a day).

    homemade cough syrup

    homemade cough syrup

    Even more interesting is a homemade cough syrup made with violet flowers and sugar.

    * More information on homemade syrup of violets to remove cough)

  • Fever: The flowers of this plant used in tea help reduce fever. (Infusion of a spoonful of dry flowers per liter of water. (Drink 2 to 4 cups daily)
  • Cold: For colds violet infusions with lemon juice helps lessen symptoms. (Infusion of a spoonful of dried flowers per cup of water. Drinking three cups a day with a little lemon juice)
  • Influenza: The previous treatment can help make the flu more bearable, especially when the patient presents with thirst attacks or when fever is very high.
  • Asthma: the ability of common violet to reduce swollen mucous membranes and their antitussive properties are very interesting for asthma sufferers. Quercetin and scopoletin have antiasthmatic properties. The preparations from this plant can decrease coughing and unswell inflamed airways, which facilitates better breathing for those affected by asthma. (40 drops of tincture daily spread over three daily doses. Tincture of common violet can be obtained from pharmacies or herbalists’)

Violet for the digestive tract

Demulcent or soothing properties of mucilage are suitable for the treatment of some digestive tract abnormalities, such as:

  • Gastritis: A tea from dried flowers can help reduce inflammation of gastric mucosa (infusion of one teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Drink two cups a day)
  • Gastroduodenal ulcers: The previous preparation is equally useful in the treatment of stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcer. (Infusion of one teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Drink two cups a day)
  • Constipation: Malic acid exerts a mild laxative function, effective for the treatment of constipation. (Infusion of a spoonful of dried flowers per cup of water. Drink two cups a day)Increasing the dose, a slightly laxative effect is obtained when needed for a more drastic treatment of constipation.

Emetic properties of common violet roots

Violet can be used for combat vomiting (antiemetic) or to to induce vomit, as an emetic. In the first case, we take advantage of the demulcent properties of the mucilage. Saponins, on the contrary, are responsible to cause vomiting when the plant preparations are taken in higher quantities.

Used to induce vomiting, we will make a decoction for 10 minutes of a tablespoon of crushed dried root per cup of water. Once it has boiled all this time, what will approximately evaporate half of water content we will add one tablespoon of sugar. It must be drank little by little with a teaspoon while hot

To avoid vomiting, we’ll make a decoction of a teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water for about 3 minutes. We will take a couple of cups a day to settle the stomach and remove vomit.)

Diuretic properties of common violet

Cleansing and diuretic properties of violet have been used to increase urination and facilitate the cure of diseases where it is desirable a higher urine production and the elimination of toxins.

In addition, mucilages exert very useful anti-inflammatory properties as an adjunct to the treatment of various kidney diseases.

According to this, it has been mainly used for the treatment of liquid retention in many diseases, such as:

Violet for the urinary system

  • Cystitis: For inflammation in the bladder and urinary tract, the use of this plant can help reduce it and expel microorganisms causing the infection. (Infusion of a half teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Drink a cup a day)
  • Nephritis: For kidneys inflammation, the previous treatment has similar properties (Infusion of half teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Drink a cup a day)
  • Hypertension: By means of increasing diuresis, it favors the elimination of liquids, being suitable for the treatment of hypertension. Moreover, the alkaloids contained in this plant possess hypotensive properties. (Infusion of a half teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Drink a cup a day)

Violet external use herbal preparations

Remedies with violet to calm cough

Mucilages exert an anti-inflammatory effect:

  • Pharyngitis: Its soothing and antiinflammatory properties can help relieve discomfort and irritation of the throat in case of pharyngitis. (Make gargles with the infusion of a spoonful of dried flowers per cup of water)
  • Sore throat and tonsilitis: Gargles with the same preparation help reduce swollen tonsils and sore throat.
  • Decrease dark circles: Violet compresses are applied over the eyes to reduce bags and blepharitis (swollen eyelids) (Infusion of 20g of leaves and / or flowers per half liter of water, let cool and apply to closed eyes)

Violet as an anti-inflammatory

Violet contains numerous analgesic and anti-inflammatory principles (salicylic acid, methyl salicylate, eugenol, beta-sitosterol, quercetin, rutin, etc.) Its properties to fight pain and reduce inflammation can be very effective in the treatment of arthritis, arthrosis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Used internally decoctions can be made with the dry root, however it is more interesting external use applied to painful joints (Decoction of two tablespoons of crumbled dried root per liter of water for 15 minutes.) Wet a compress with the resulting liquid and apply on the painful area) (Pour the liquid of this decoction into the bath water)

Equally interesting is the violet ointment made with lard and violet leaves.

* More information: Ointment for pain

Food properties of common violet

Violet, edible plant

Some authors consider the leaves of these violets as edible plants, especially when they are young and tender during the winter. They can be added to raw salads or used to flavor soups.

leaves of violet

Photo of leaves of violet

Edible violet leaves

Violet leaves are used to make soups, add in salads or in different recipes with wild plants.

Young leaves have a pleasant flavor, the old ones are more bitter and are not used in salads, although they are added to soups and creams.

Due to its high mucilage content, thick soups and vegetable creams are made with them, very suitable for coughs, colds or constipation (fibers soften the irritated throat and digestive mucous membranes).

Edible violet flowers

viola tricololor edible flowers

Leaves and flowers of a type of violet (Viola tricolor) prepared to be cooked.

They are used for medicinal purposes and in the kitchen as an edible flower. The flowers of the violets are used as edible flowers. They can be added fresh to the salads to give flavor and provide an exotic touch to them.

In some places they are prepared candied with sugar. In addition, these flowers are very rich in quercetin and rutin, two flavonoids with many properties.

Other uses of common violet

  • Perfumery: The flowers and leaves of common violet are used to extract essential oil that is used in perfumery.
  • Food industry: From the leaves of the violet flavors are extracted that the food industry uses to flavor its products, especially in the manufacture of ice cream, confectionery or confectionery products.

Toxicity and contraindications of common violet

Used in proper doses no toxicity or contraindications are observed. When taken in higher doses, it presents an emetic effect, due to its content in saponins, especially in the root.

Collecting and conservation of violet flowers and roots

Flowers are harvested in early spring and roots in early autumn. All of them should be dried in the shade and stored in a dry and dark place inside bags or glass jars.

More information on violet.

This article was endorsed by Montserrat Enrich - Journalist specializing in edible wild plants and plant uses.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

23 November, 2020

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.