Don’t Shrink from Violets

Oct 13, 2016
Wild Violets


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Wild violets (genus Viola, many species; probably escaped from cultivation) pop up everywhere and anywhere in my lawn and vegetable gardens.

I encourage them.

In the lawn they stay green when the grass goes dormant in August; in the garden, they add a perky ornamental touch.

Plus, they’re also really good to eat. Good for you, too, both as food and medicine.

In terms of eating, I’m talking primarily about the young, tender, heart-shaped leaves, although the delicate flowers are also edible, scattered across the top of a delicate salad or used for candied violets and decorating cakes.

Raw or cooked, violet greens have a delicate, bland flavor. Add them to mixed-greens salads; toss a handful into a soup, a stir-fry, or a side dish of mixed steamed greens.

The late wild-edibles enthusiast Euell Gibbons called wild violets “nature’s vitamin pill,” noting that a half-cup serving of tender green leaves provides the vitamin C of four oranges and a day’s supply of Vitamin A.

The leaves and roots also contain the host of phytocompounds that herbalists have long used to treat skin and respiratory ailments, wounds, headaches, anxiety, and fibrocystic breasts and other breast swellings.


  • Don’t ever eat a wild plant you can’t identify with certainty.
  • Eat only the purple-flowered varieties.
  • Don’t eat violets (or any flower) that came from a florist or plant nursery, as the plants may contain pesticides and other toxins. 
  • African violets, Saintpaulia ionantha, aren’t true violets. Don’t eat them or use them in medicinal preparations.

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

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The Taste of Violets

I love this article and the whole 'eating violets' concept. As a little kid, wanted to try making candied ones but just never got around to it. Decades later, I wrote a novel, pure fiction, in which violets play a life-saving role and touch two generations of a family in a unique way, called it "The Taste of Violets." Funny how life comes around more than once sometimes; I guess it's called serendipity.

Thank you for the info on

Thank you for the info on edible wild violets. I have been growing them for years. They are so beautiful and the leaves get very large when encourage to grow. Plus they are the perennials that you well never have to plant again and they grow in just about all environments. Now I plenty of salad fixings. Thanks again.

Most of mine are lighter

Most of mine are lighter purple almost white. Can I not eat the greens from these?

Yes! And the flowers, too.

Yes! And the flowers, too.

Where can I find safe

Where can I find safe varieties to plant?

ask your neighbors, safest

ask your neighbors, safest way I know

I'd echo Reba. Try to find

I'd echo Reba. Try to find nearby lawns and lawn edges where people have allowed violets to creep in. Ask to dig a few to transplant into your own gardens or lawns. Violets seed prolifically, so taking a few shouldn't threaten your neighbor's supplies.

Thank you for a wonderful

Thank you for a wonderful article. I have these growing everywhere in my yard. I didn't know that were so benficial for you. I can't wait to try them in a salad.


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