Herb of the Month: Violet

Viola odorata. Sweet, sweet violet. I can’t think of a better plant to represent February. Becoming more and more obsessed with the language of flowers, violets speak of delicate love, affection, modesty, faith, nobility, intuition and dignity – perfectly fitting in with the overwhelming theme of February – Valentines. It’s heart-shaped leaves seem to add to that mysticism.


Violets have such beautiful symbolism. History has depicted violets as plants representing deep spiritual insights and were revered by monks and religions throughout time. During the middle ages they were called a “herb of the Holy Trinity” being associated with beginning life, death as well as resurrection.


Traditionally violets were used by healers to treat heart conditions. Oh the irony. Sold by almost all apothecaries, herbalists have used violet to treat inflammation, varicose veins, eczema, as a lymphatic stimulant, blood cleanser and all-round cardiotonic. Nobody says it better than Culpepper himself…

‘It is a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of a mild nature and no way hurtful. All the Violets are cold and moist, while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as the inflammation in the eyes, to drink the decoction of the leaves and flowers made with water or wine, or to apply them poultice wise to the grieved places; it likewise easeth pains in the head caused through want of sleep, or any pains arising of heat if applied in the same manner or with oil of Roses. A drachm weight of the dried leaves or flowers of Violets, but the leaves more strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours and assuageth the heat if taken in a draught of wine or other drink; the powder of the purple leaves of the flowers only picked and dried and drank in water helps the quinsy and the falling sickness in children, especially at the beginning of the disease. It is also good for jaundice. The flowers of the Violets ripen and dissolve swellings. The herbs or flowers while they are fresh or the flowers that are dry are effectual in the pleurisy and all diseases of the lungs. The green leaves are used with other herbs to make plasters and poultices for inflammation and swellings and to ease all pains whatsoever arising of heat and for piles, being fried with yoke of egg and applied thereto.’

Give your loved one something beautifully symbolic this Valentines. A devoted love? Blue violet is best. Wanting to take a gamble on love? White is the winner.