|Binomial name||Viola odorata|
Other Common Names:
The other common names of the herb violet are Banaf Shah, Banafsaj, Banafshah, English Violet, Garden Violet, Kokulu Menekse, Maarts Viooltje, Nioi-Sumire, Purple Violet, Sweet Blue Violet, Sweet Violet and Violette Des Jardins.
Violet is a glabrous or pubescent herb, rarely more than 15 cm. in height, arising from a rootstock which is stout and stolons are slender. The familiar leaves are heart-shaped, slightly downy, especially beneath, on stalks rising alternately from a creeping rhizome or underground stem, the blades of the young leaves rolled up from each side into the middle on the face of the leaf into two tight coils. Flowers are nodding, deep violet inside with a bluish white base, solitary axillary and also forming a central flowering rosette and sweet scented. The capsules are round, bluntly 3-angled, downy and often purplish.
Violet is said to be native of Europe and is widely distributed in the temperate and tropical regions of the world, especially in Northern Asia and North America.
They thrive best in warm, sunny banks and edges of woods.
The Violet propagates itself and by throwing out scions, or runners, from the main plant each summer after flowering, and these in turn send out roots and become new plants, a process that renders it independent of seed. The Violet must be renewed and replanted every year. Ordinary garden soil will suffice for successful Violet culture, but the soil must be carefully prepared and deep digging is essential. Violets flourish best on a good medium soil, neither too heavy, nor too light. The ideal soil is a deep, sandy soil. The young plants should be rooted runners; plant not less than a foot apart each way. Water must be given copiously in dry weather, and the plants will also benefit at such times from a mulching or top dressing of leaf-mould or decayed manure. April is a favourable time to set about the task of making a Violet bed. The Violet in summer time delights in partial shade, therefore the bed should be made if possible under the north-east side of a fence or hedge. The soil between the rows should be hoed frequently and the runners of most varieties must be removed in the summer. From plants thus established in the open, a plentiful supply of blooms will be forthcoming in the following spring. It is, however, only in sheltered places that Violets will thrive in the open during winter.
Water the Violets from the outdoor bed a day before lifting; by taking this precaution, it will be possible to lift the roots so that they bring away with them a good-sized ball of earth. All straggling runners should be cut away, leaving only two or three, already rooted probably, and showing flowers close up to the old plants. They should be planted a foot apart, firmly and deeply, or sufficiently to bury the stems, keeping the crowns well out of the soil. Level all and give a good watering immediately to settle the roots, and keep the frame closed for a few days until the plants begin to make roots, but no longer. Plants removed to frames in the latter half of September, if properly attended to, will begin to bloom early in October and continue to flower till April. Some growers raise their young plants from cuttings taken early in October, when lifting the plants to put them into frames or cool greenhouses.
The sweet-scented Violet flowers are in bloom from late winter to mid spring. Thus the flowers appear at the end of February and finishes blooming by the end of April.
Pests and Diseases
Some butterflies feed entirely on Violet, and the stem of the plant is often swelled and spongy in appearance, due to insects, whose eggs were deposited on the stalk. If the foliage assumes a yellow tint, it is almost an indication of the presence of red spider. The plants should then be sprinkled at frequent intervals with a mixture of sulphur and well-seasoned soot and a thorough syringing such as will reach the under-part of the foliage should also be given.
Apart from the whole plant being used fresh, the flowers and the leaves are dried and used for its medicinal and commercial value.
• It is used to cool any heat or distemperature of the body, such as eye inflamrnations, or hot swellings in the matrix or fundament.
• The powdered flowers taken in water relieve the quinsy and the falling-sickness in children.
• The leaves are antiseptic and are used internally and externally for the treatment of malignancies.
• They are used for treating bruises, jaundice and urinary complaints.
• Violet helps in spasmodic cough with hard breathing, and also for rheumatism of the wrists.
• The fresh leaves are also prepared as a compress for local application.
• It is used for treating respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat.
• Violet is used to treat digestive disorders and is used as a medicinal remedy for headache, body pains and as a sedative.
• A wine made from the flowers of the Sweet Violet was much used by the Romans.
• Violets impart their odour to liquids, and vinegar derives not only the odour but also a brilliant tint.
• The chief use of the Violet in these days is as a colouring agent and perfume.
• Syrup of Violet with Lemon Syrup and acetic acid makes an excellent dish in summer. The Syrup forms a principal ingredient in Oriental sherbet.
• Syrup of Violets is also employed as a laxative, and as a colouring agent and flavouring in other neutral or acid medicines.
• The fresh flowers have also been used as an addition to salads.
• An infusion of the flowers is employed, especially on the Continent, as a substitute for litmus, as a test of acids and alkalis.
• Flowers are also edible and used as food additives for instance in salad, made into jelly, and candied for decoration.
Violets were mentioned frequently by Homer and Virgil. In Macer's Herbal (tenth century) the Violet is among the many herbs which were considered powerful against wicked spirits. When Napoleon went to Elba his last message to his adherents was that he should return with Violets. Hence he was alluded to and toasted by them in secret as Caporal Violette, and the Violet was adopted as the emblem of the Imperial Napoleonic party.
The Ancient Greeks considered the Violet a symbol of fertility and love; they used it in love potions. Pliny recommended that a garland of them be worn about the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. The Violet has long been revered as a sweet-smelling yet humble flower whose leaves are shaped exactly like hearts. We have known many people who place a Violet Leaf in their shoe and wear it that way for seven days in the belief that they will find a new lover. To do a triple-strength job, some folks use three Violet Leaves and wear them for a total of 21 days.