Common Blue Violet – Viola odorata

Common Blue Violet
Common Blue Violet

Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head
As if to hide from view.
And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colour bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there.

Yet thus it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused a sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.

Jane Taylor

As a child I believed that the violets were the homes of all fairies, you couldn’t convince me otherwise. I had actually seen a small person wearing a violet flower for a cap, sitting under a leaf for shelter during a shower! Everyone thought I was crazy….then I grew up. I don’t know anymore that what I believed then is true or not…But I sure do wish to believe!

In Macer’s Herbal (tenth century) the Violet is among the many herbs, which were considered powerful against ‘wykked sperytis.’ (see fairies are not wicked)

The violets were employed as Syrup of Violets and administered as a gentle laxative. Syrop Violae of the British Pharmacopoeia directs that it may be given as a laxative to infants in doses of 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful. The older writers had great faith in Syrup of Violets. Ague, epilepsy, inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, and jaundice are only a few of the ailments for which it was held potent. Gerard says: ‘It has power to ease inflammation, roughness of the throat and comforteth the heart, assuageth the pains of the head and causeth sleep.

A recipe, from a seventeenth century recipe book:

‘Sirrup of Violets

‘Take a quantity of Blew Violets, clip off the whites and pound them well in a stone morter; then take as much fair running water as will sufficiently moysten them and mix with the Violets; strain them all; and to every halfe pint of the liquor put one pound of the best loafe sugar; set it on the fire, putting the sugar in as it melts, still stirring it; let it boyle but once or twice att the most; then take it from the fire, and keep it to your use. This is a daynty sirrup of Violets.’

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