Sweet Violet


LATIN NAME :             Viola odorata

COMMON NAME:        Sweet Violet

FAMILY:                        Violaceae (Violet family)

European native but rare in Scotland. Flowers in both spring and autumn but the flowers are different.

Spring - fully formed, sweet-scented but no seed.

Autumn – small and insignificant, hidden in the leaves with no petals, no scent but produces an abundance of seed.

PARTS USED : Whole herb harvested when in flower Feb – Apr.


Once seen as a symbol of the constancy of love and fertility. Carried in love sachets, sometimes mixed with lavender, to attract a new love. Gathering the first violet seen in the spring was said to ensure that one’s greatest wish would be granted. According to Pliny “a garland of violets worn about the head will dispel the fumes of wine and prevent headache and dizziness.”

Traditionally used externally as a poultice to treat wounds, swellings, skin diseases, mastitis.

Leaves can be eaten as salad greens. Flowers are also edible.

Widely used to treat breast and lung cancer in 1930s. Also used for throat, stomach and intestinal cancer, particularly after surgery, to prevent metastases.

Soothing and aids expulsion of phlegm – used to treat bronchitis, catarrh and cough

Affinity for the breasts and used to treat fibrocystic breasts.

Softens hard lumps and stimulates the lymphatic system.


·        Salicylates – anti-inflammatory

·        Saponins – expectorant (helps expel phlegm)