Violet

(Viola odorata)

Description

Violets are a beautiful wildflower that bloom in early spring. The flowers are violet in color, with a white center and five petals. Flowers give way to small green seedpods that contain multiple black seeds, about 1mm each. The leaves are spade-shaped, with toothy edges and grow to be between ½ – 2 inches wide.

Cultivation Tips

Violets like to grow in moist, rich soils, but can tolerate well-drained soils. They typically sprout under partial shade and spread to where conditions allow, even areas with full sun. Violets spread readily and make a great edible ground cover, as they stay low and tolerate partial shade well. Violet seeds can be collected and sown in the fall, however it is recommended to let the violets self-seed and transplant the young plants to a new location, as collecting the seeds can be tedious.

Exposed roots and rhizomes of a violet in the garden in late fall.

Uses

Violets have edible flowers which can be eaten alone or used in salads or steeped into teas and syrups. The leaves are also edible and are comparable to spinach. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are a source for vitamin A and vitamin C. The flowers are a good source of nectar in the early spring before most other flowers bloom. Violets are a must-have in any edible lawn.

Friends

Violets make an excellent groundcover in between larger herbaceous and shrub elements. They make a great companion to early spring greens like spinach, as the flowers attract beneficial insects.

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