The sweet violet (Viola odorata) is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the violet family, which includes over 500 different species. It is also known by the names of wood violet, common violet, florist’s violet, English violet, and garden violet. Odorata, which is part of the Latin name of the sweet violet, means fragrant and perfumed.
Sweet violet typically flowers in early spring, from March to April in the northern hemisphere, although the exact timing can vary depending on the climate. The flowers usually remain on the stems for several weeks and are replaced by new flowers as the older ones fall off. After the flowering season, sweet violets can continue to grow and produce flowers throughout the summer, although they are not as showy or fragrant during this period.
Where to Find Them
In the wild, sweet violets grow in forests, meadows, and hedgerows, especially in areas with moist, shady soil with plenty of nutrients. They prefer partial shade and often grow under trees or shrubs. If you’re interested in foraging for sweet violets in the wild, it’s a good idea to look for them in areas with moist, shady soil, such as near streams or in woodlands.
Sweet violets taste like they smell – sweet and fragrant.
They are low-growing plants that typically reach around 10 cm tall and have heart-shaped leaves with a deep green color. The plant spreads over time. The flowers are usually purple or blue. Sweet violets have a characteristic sweet scent, which is often used in essential oils and parfumes.
Sweet violets have a long tradition of use in cooking, especially in European cuisine. The flowers are often used to make violet syrup, which can be used as a flavoring in drinks and desserts. The flowers can also be candied and used as a decoration for cakes and other baked goods, used in sweets, garnished on a salad, or made into violet sugar. Sweet violets do not tolerate much cooking, so they are often used fresh. Alternatively, they can be dried or extracted in alcohol or water.
Sweet violets have been used for their medicinal properties for centuries. They are rich in antioxidants and are believed to have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. They have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including headaches, coughs, colds and sore throats.
Storing Sweet Violets
Store the sweet violets in an airtight container at the bottom of the fridge. They must be used as soon as possible and no later than after 4-5 days.