lundi 29 mars 2010

Plant of the week - Sweet Violet

Viola odorata, member of the Violaceae family. There are many different violets but the one that really interests us for it's medicinal qualities is the sweet violet with its well-known, very individual scent. It is a small plant with oval,heart shaped leaves, 5 separate, irregular petals, the lower one is elongated at it's base by a long, hollow spur. The 5 stamens have very short filaments, when mature the ovary gives a dry fruit with three valves.
Violets are one of our early spring flowers, they often grow on the outskirts of woods, under hedges in fact they can be found all over the place.
In herbal medicine, we use both the flowers and the leaves, although we pick the flowers first and return for the leaves after the flowering period is finished. Violets are a gentle herb containing no dangerous substances. The mucilage that they contain make them a good pectoral remedy in a herbal tea mix, especially with dry coughs, when expectoration needs to be increased, also useful for colds and in cases of bronchitis. Many herbal books mention a violet syrup for coughs, I haven,t tried it yet so can not really say much about it, except if anyone has experimented with violet syrup ....let's hear about it.
The leaves have similar properties as the flowers but are more often used in internal inflammations (Digestive tract), talking of which their use in cases of constipation is quite common. Externally they are work well on the skin for irritations and eruptions.

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