Sweet Violets, and a Look-Alike.

I love making a salad with spring greens. This salad is mostly violet greens and flowers. I plan to mix in some red lettuce and top it with oil and vinegar, blueberries and some goat cheese.

Violets are pretty easy to identify with their heart-shaped leaves and shades of purple flowers. As always be sure of your identification before eating. When you find them, they  tend to be plentiful. These violets are from my backyard, so I know they haven’t been sprayed with any weed killer.

I have a book that talks about the benefits and uses of violets. “An Herbalist’s Guide to Growing and Using Violets” by Kathleen Brown. It cautions that the roots are high in the medicinal compounds that induce diarrhea and vomitting. I think I’ll stick with young leaves and flowers. 

Aside from multiple medicinal uses, violets are high in beta carotene and vitamin C and have rutin which strengthens capillaries. For more information on the uses of violets check out the book.

Another edible in my backyard that has a leaf similar to the violet is the garlic mustard. It too is edible. If you harvest and eat the garlic mustard your local conservation district will thank you. It is considered an invasive species and can be so prolific that it chokes out the native wildflowers and plants.

In the first year garlic mustard has leaves similar to violet, but will not flower. It is a biennial and flowers in the second year. In its flowering stage, it looks nothing like a violet, and is easy to identify.

In another post I’ll talk more about garlic mustard, and give a few recipes. For now I need to finish preparing my violet salad. We would love to hear what you think about violets.

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