Sweet Violets: Edible Flowers, Medicinal Plants

by Rachel Baker on February 15, 2014

I love the idea of using plants more in cooking for flavor, as well as medicinal values. We drink chamomile or mint tea for medicinal value (to come or invigorate, and also to help with digestion), why not add plants and flowers to our meals, right?

It should go without saying, you must be sure what you are using is not toxic. Be careful and do your research before you try!

Lately, more and more people have begun to understand just how limited, in both variety and nutritional value, our “modern” diets have become. This realization has sparked a new and widespread interest in the culinary and therapeutic uses of herbs—those plants which, although not well-known today, were honored “guests” on the dinner tables and in the medicine chests of our grandparents’ homes. In this regular feature, Herb Garden, we’ll examine the availability, cultivation and benefits of our “forgotten” vegetable foods, edible flowers and remedies—and, we hope, help prevent the loss of yet another bit of ancestral lore.

There is considerably more to the common sweet violet (Viola odorata) than meets the eye, although this hardy little perennial with exquisite flowers and broad, heart-shaped leaves is certainly attractive—be it in the woods or in a shaded garden. However, sweet violets have also been used through the ages in medicinal preparations, culinary concoctions, perfumes, dyes and cosmetics.

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