Sweet Violet

Viola odorata

Herbs gallery - Sweet Violet

Common names

  • Blue Violet
  • Common Blue Violet
  • English Violet
  • Garden Violet
  • Hu-chin-ts'ao
  • Sweet Violet

When the first exquisite and aromatic bluish-purple flowers of sweet violets gently sway in the meadows or the edges of the forest lands, nature lovers make out that spring has arrived. In fact, people marveled at sweet violets for over 2,000 years. In primeval Athens, people regarded sweet violet highly for the plant's ability to cure insomnia as well as to restrain anger. Pliny, the renowned naturalist of ancient Rome, had stated that an infusion prepared by steeping the roots of sweet violet in vinegar was useful for curing gout. He had further stated that wearing garlands of the bluish-violet flowers of this herb around the head helped to ease dizziness and headaches.

Later on, the Celts blended the flowers of sweet violet with goat milk to produce a cosmetic. In 16th century England, people used sweet violet flowers to prepare syrup as well as in the form of a gentle purgative meant for children. They used this syrup for treating several ailments in adults, such as jaundice, epilepsy and pleurisy.

In contemporary times, the flowers of sweet violet are mainly used in the form of cooling agents, in the manufacture of perfumes as well as cough syrups.

During different eras and in dissimilar places, folk healers advocated the use of the sweet violet plant in the form of a remedy for problems related to growths. Ever since roughly 500 B.C., freshly obtained leaves of the plant have been employed in the form of a poultice to cure skin cancer. Unfortunately, people still continue to believe that the sweet violet plant is effective for treating cancer, despite the fact that there is no scientific matter to substantiate this claim.

Parts used

Flowers, leaves, root.


The leaves and flowers of sweet violet possess mild expectorant as well as demulcent properties and they also promote perspiration. Frequently, they are employed in the form of an infusion or syrup to treat chest colds, coughs, as well as congestion. In British herbal medicine, the leaves and flowers of this herb are also used for treating stomach and breast cancers. The root of sweet violet herb is a comparatively potent expectorant and when taken in elevated doses, it has an emetic action.

This herb has been used in folk medicine since ages and has been found to be effective in many cases, particularly for treating whooping cough and cancer. Sweet violet encloses a compound called salicylic acid that is used for making aspirin. Therefore, it is natural that this herb is useful for treating conditions like headaches, insomnia and migraines. The entire sweet violet plant possesses anti-inflammatory, diuretic, diaphoretic, expectorant, emollient and laxative properties. Preparations using this herb are taken internally to treat asthma; bronchitis; coughs; throat infections; respiratory catarrh; as well as cancers of the breast, digestive tract and the lungs. This herb is also used topically to heal throat infections as well as mouth contagions. You may use the fresh plant or harvest it when it is in bloom during the summer and dry it up for future use. The bluish-purple aromatic flowers of sweet violent possess emollient and demulcent properties. The flowers are used for treating conditions like biliousness and problems related to the lungs.

The petals of sweet violet flowers are use to prepare syrup that is employed in treating health problems related to children. Compared to the other parts of sweet violet, its roots possess an additionally potent expectorant attribute. In addition, the roots also enclose an alkaloid called violine, which when taken in elevated doses has strong purgative and emetic actions. The seeds of sweet violet possess diuretic as well as purgative properties and have been used therapeutically to treat problems related to the urinary tract - they are believed to be especially effective for treating gravels. The whole sweet violet herb is also used to prepare a homeopathic remedy, which is believed to be effective for treating sporadic coughs as well as rheumatic wrists. The flowers also yield an essential oil that is employed in aromatherapy for treating fatigue, problems related to the bronchial tract, and skin disorders.

The essential oil obtained from the sweet violet leaves and blossoms is also used for making perfumes. Roughly 1,000 kg of sweet violet leaves yield approximately 300 grams to 400 grams of absolute or concentrated oil. The flowers of this plant are also employed to add essence to breath fresheners. In addition, the bluish-violent flowers also yield a pigment that is employed in the form of litmus for testing alkalines and acids.

Other medical uses

Culinary uses

In addition to the plant's therapeutic, cosmetic and chemical uses, sweet violet is also employed for culinary purposes. The tender leaves as well as the flower buds of sweet violet may be consumed raw or after cooking. Normally, this plant is available during the entire winter. The leaves possess an extremely mild essence, but they become somewhat strong when they are mature. A very good salad can be prepared using the leaves and their very mild essence makes it possible to use them in large numbers, while the other leaves that have a strong essence may be added to make the salads more flavourful. When the leaves are included in soups, they make the soup more congealed, in the same manner as okra. Sweet violet leaves are also used to enhance the flavour of puddings and other foods. The leaves can also be used to prepare a tea.

The bluish-violet blooms of this herb can be consumed raw. The flowers possess a mild sugary flavour and a slight aroma. They are particularly useful for garnishing salads, as they can be availed during late winter. Fresh sweet violet flowers are used to add color as well as essence to confectionery. The leaves as well as the flowers of this plant are also used to prepare a refreshing tea. An extract obtained from the leaves of this plant is used to add essence to baked items, sweets and ice cream.

Habitat and cultivation

The sweet violet is indigenous to several regions of Europe as well as Asia, where it is a familiar plant growing along the pavements, in forest land and along the sides of roads.

The sweet violet plant thrives in nearly all types of soils, but has a preference for a cool, damp soil that has a proper drainage and is rich in humus content. In addition, this plant grows well in dappled or partial shade and requires protection from blazing winds. When the plants are grown outdoors, they have a preference of a reasonably heavy, fertile soil, although they are able to endure limestone and sandstone soils. The sweet violet plants are resilient to approximately -20°C. Precisely speaking, sweet violets are decorative plants and they have several named varieties.

These plants bear gracefully aromatic flowers during the later part of winter and in early spring, which are meant for fertilization by bees and because very few bees are around during this period of the year, the flowers rarely lead to seed production. Nevertheless, afterward in the year, the plants also bear a second variety of flower. Although these flowers do not open, they produce seeds inside them by means of self-fertilization. Often, the plants also freely sow by themselves provided the site is appropriate for it. When the sweet violet plants are growing robustly, they are also capable of spreading their roots rather very quickly. Sweet violet plants respond healthy to replanting annually provided the soil is loose and fertile. The leaves and flower buds of all plants belonging to this genus are comparatively edible. However, if the leaves and flower buds of the species that produces yellow flowers are consumed in large amounts it may result in diarrhea.


Chemical analysis of the sweet violet plant has revealed that it encloses alkaloids, a volatile (unsteady) oil, salicylates, flavonoids and saponins.

Usual dosage

The sweet violet plant is therapeutically used in the form of infusion and tincture.

INFUSION: Prepare an infusion with sweet violet plant by adding one teaspoonful of this herb to one cup (250 ml) of boiling water and allow it to permeate for about 10 to 15 minutes. Ideally, this infusion ought to be consumed thrice daily.

TINCTURE: The tincture made with sweet violet should be taken in dosage of 1 ml to 2 ml thrice daily.


Aerial parts
The aerial parts of the sweet violet plant are therapeutically used in various forms, including infusion, tincture, poultice, cream and also a wash.
INFUSION: The infusion prepared with this herb should be taken internally to treat chronic skin problems. In addition, it may also be used in the form of a gentle tonic for the immune system and circulatory system.
TINCTURE: The tincture made from the aerial parts of sweet violet plant is used for treating disorders related to digestion and the lungs, urinary problems and capillary fragility.
POULTICE: Use the powdered herb to prepare a paste with water and apply it directly onto the ulcers and sores on the skin.
CREAM: The cream prepared with the aerial parts of the herb is used to treat skin rashes and aggravating eczema.
WASH: The sweet violet infusion can be used for treating conditions like cradle cap, diaper rash, insect bites, varicose ulcers and weeping sores.

Collection and harvesting

The leaves as well as the flowers of sweet violet are collected during spring (from March to April) while the root is harvested in autumn. Dry them carefully for future use.

Candied violets

The ingredients required for candied violets include:

  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 oz. gum arabic
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 24 fresh violet blossoms
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 Tbs. white corn syrup
  • Blue and red food coloring

The procedure for preparing candied violets is as follows:

1. Take a double boiler, add one cup of water to the gum arabic and stir them in the top compartment till the gum dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool and then, dip the fresh violet flowers into the blend using a fork. Ensure that all the surfaces of the flowers are coated well. Place them on waxed paper for roughly two hours to allow the coated flowers to dry.

2. Take a small saucepan and boil two cups of sugar and the white corn syrup in half cup of water. Remember, you should just cook these ingredients, and not boil them, till the candy thermometer reads 234°. Subsequently, add sufficient drops of the blue and red food coloring and stir the mixture till the color of the mixture is similar to that of the violet flowers. Leave the mixture to cool to become tepid.

3. Next, color the residual sugar using the food coloring to create a violet hue. Place the sugar on waxed papers and leave it to dry. In case there are lumps, press them out.

4. In the last phase, dip all the flowers into the cooled syrup, drain the additional syrup, and place them with their heads down in the tinted sugar. Sprinkle the tinted sugar on each flower and allow them to dry for the night or till they become solid. Finally, store these candies in a moisture-free, sealed container.

You may use these violet candies to decorate desserts.


From Jenny Stultz - Mar-17-2011
About 20 years ago I heard a story from a woman who's father was diagnosed with throat cancer. He was scheduled for 10 radiation treatments. After 9 treatments there was still not reduction in the cancer.
This woman just happened to be a dance teacher (she was a "Rockett" at one time). One of her students was Chinese. After telling the students' family about her father's unsuccessful radiation treatment, they recommended she try "blue violet root" and told her it was Chinese medicine. I'm not sure where, but she did buy blue violet root and made a tea. She did not know how much to use so she used a lot. She said that after drinking the tea, her father started sweating and excreting "black stuff" from every place a body could excrete it. She kept having to change the sheets and the smell was horrible. She said that she was worried she had OD'd him because he was such a mess.
Eventually, he got better and went for his 10 radiation treatment... The cancer was gone!
How can I get more info on this subject? My aunt has a very aggressive form of uterine cancer and I am wondering if this could help.
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