Violets and Herb Medicine

Five Hundred Names, or Some of Them!

Variens List from: The Flower Expert

Viola odorata, or purple violet, is also known as Banafshah, Garden Violet, Neelapushpa, Neelapuspha, Sweet Violet Herb, English Violet, Violeta, Sweet Violet Root, Violae Odoratae Rhizoma, Herba, Violet.

Names from: Grieves: A Modern Herbal Online

"There are more than five hundred species of violets worldwide and more than sixty in North America. The genus also includes pansies. Violets are the state flower of Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin."

Gloriamundi Press offers a selection of more violet species' names to the above list: (Viola septentionalis), Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata), Arrowleaf Violet (Viola sagittata), Northern White Violet (Viola pallens), Canada Violet (Viola canadensis), Smooth-leaved Yellow Violet (Viola pensylvanica) and Round-Leaved Yellow Violet (Viola rotundifolia).

Folk Concepts

On White and Other Violets: More Info on Violet Species

While the Ancient Greeks considered the Violet to be a symbol for fertility and of love, using it in love potions, a Greek priesthood of celibate eunuchs also performed a ritual sacred service for the protection of the male, consisting of a dance around a small conifer, which they decorated with red and white ribbons which tied small bouquets of violets onto its branches.
It became the official symbol of Athens. (Info from: Dance of the Violets: For Garden, Health & Even Dessert by Karyn Siegel-Maier)
Pliny recommended that a garland of violets be worn above the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells*. As well, the Romans believed that a band of violets worn about the head would ensure "sobriety" during festivals, and also deter "morning after" unpleasantness.

About the best article I have researched about violets can be found at The Flower
The above notes come from this article,The Flower Expert and also from: Dance of the Violets: For Garden, Health & Even Dessert by Karyn Siegel-Maier, owner, Herbal Muse Press; founder of

*re headaches: I looked some years ago for the original medicinal qualities of Viola alba, information that I had read in a library herb book, but to no avail. My book had told me that White violet offers medicine not just useful for heart or arthritis, but also (in a tisane) used for migraine headache, and potentially as a natural medicine for some forms of cancer. So far, I have linked to a page on Just White Violets: Canadian White Violet
Although I could not find this information or conjecture in modern form, I have the notion that planting a white violet might be a preventive action to take when you are at risk of forming breast cancer. If you have a certain type of tumor, planting the violet close to a stream or water feature might encourage this type of problem to slink out, fast.

In general, violet seeds and leaves were used in folk medicine traditionally, in poultices, for treating swelling and inflammation. The properties page for Sweet Violet will offer an actual remedy (from Mrs Grieves, A Modern Herbal) for the relief of rheumatism, especially for the shoulders and chest. This consists of no more than the young leaves baked in vegetabel shortening and made into a soothing salve. The pain from arthritis is terribly debilitating, so that the creation of a home remedy might not hurt, during ones' personal health meditation. Although the salve is strained of leaves, this is , potentially an updated version of the poultice for swollen or inflamed flesh.

Wines, Syrup and Perfumes

"That which above all others yields the sweetest smell in the air, is the violet..." -Sir Francis Bacon

In Roman banquet halls, the arrival of spring was heralded by a scattering of violet petals and leaves. Revellers also imbibed a sweet wine called Violetum, formulated by the gourmet Apicius.

"Violet Plate," a violet sugar or conserve, was a popular ingredient in 17th century throat lozenges and cough syrups.

Great quantities of the sweet violets are commercially grown in France and Italy today for the parfumists. Believe it or not, It takes more than 2 million flowers to produce one single pound of the essential oil!
Sweet Violet perfume can be found in finer preparations of talc or soaps, as well as in a naiive but distinctively Violet-scented French perfume. As itself, Violet scent has been used so often in confections, that the gentle yet constant appeal of its perfume is a bit like wearing candies. As a young woman, I had found a source of violet lozenges, which are a flat, violet coloured pastille that is a long lozenge shape. I ate them for sweet breath, especially when I travelled the subway or met with clients, so that violet perfume will always remind me of this classy and expensive breath sweetener, as well as of the tiny hard sweets one will find in childrens' candy mixes.

I will always remember the sunny afternoons when my Mother took the time to make cakes, which she decorated with icing Daffodils and circles of silver balls and candied violets! Violet flowers are deliciously edible, candied for decorations on cakes or fancy cookies.

'..Dried violets can be used for tea. The blossoms can be eaten raw or used as flavoring for candy or jam.
A syrup of violets and honey was used as a children's laxative, by European settlers to North America. A syrup of violet is still "used in alternative medicine, mainly for respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat"#.
Violets were used for medicinal purposes by early settlers. Indians boiled violet bulbs and dried them, but for actual winter food. .'

Above, from Gloria Mundi Press

#Link to Syrup Recipe in an Article by: Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron


"Odorata is used internally for respiratory problems, breast cancer, as well as cancer of the stomach, lungs and colon."

Read more about health, bronchitis, skin complaints (including weeping eczema), urinary problems and skin fragility, boils, insect and snake bites,and the varieties of violets used for these medicines by linking here, to: Ageless Co.

More on Viola odorata, leaves: "May be used to soften malignant growths, tumors and other hard lumps. "
Actual Remedy Link

"Externally, it is typically used to treat mouth and throat infections. " Read about turn of the century knowledge of health and violets at: A Modern Herbal, Mrs Grieves


Labrador Violets(Viola labradorica purpurea) are a purplish to burgundy variety of Violets, native to damp woodlands of the northeast of the United States, Labrador, Nova Scotia, & Greenland.

Viola pinnata- Mauve striped: ( example:



True Index links to my designer page for Northdays Image, otherwise each link below is to a main text-only page.

true index ] textual homepage ] companions directory ] column ] herb directory ] moonphase] links] contact ] copyright] credits] dictionary ]

copyright Sue Risk Northdays Image 2004 - 2009