Viola odorata ‘Purple Robe’
Clump-forming herbaceous perennial bearing masses of sweet smelling purple flowers from late winter, providing early food for bees. The leaves are edible, with a very mild taste, great in salads. When added to soup they thicken it in much the same way as okra or mallow. Flowers are also edible, and can be added to salads or used for decoration. A soothing tea can be made from both leaves and flowers.
Sweet violet has a long and proven history of folk use, especially in the treatment of whooping cough. It also contains salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin. It is therefore effective in the treatment of headaches, migraine and insomnia. The whole plant is anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, and laxative. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, coughs, asthma, and cancer of the breast, lungs or digestive tract. Externally, it is used to treat mouth and throat infections. The plant can either be used fresh, or harvested when it comes into flower and then be dried for later use. The flowers are demulcent and emollient and are used in the treatment of biliousness and lung troubles. The roots form a much stronger expectorant than other parts of the plant but they also contain the alkaloid violine which at higher doses is strongly emetic and purgative. They can be gathered in the autumn and dried for later use. The seeds are diuretic and purgative.
The petals are made into a syrup and used in the treatment of infantile disorders, pulmonary congestion, coughs, bronchitis and chronic nasopharyngeal mucus. Modern clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy of Viola odorata syrup in cough, insomnia and migraine. You can make a syrup by putting 150-200g of flowers (stems removed) in a jar. Add 250ml of freshly boiled water and screw on the lid. Leave to steep for 12 hours. Strain the liquid into a saucepan and add 1kg of sugar. Boil gently until the mix reaches syrup consistency (approx hour). Take 3-4 teaspoons a day.
Useful ground cover for sun or part shade, especially in moist, humus-rich soil under trees. Ht. 20cm. 9cm pot. Certified Organic Plant.