Look around, it’s springtime. Violets are everywhere. Foraging for Spring Violets is a happy way to capture the essence of spring with your children, and enJOY the many benefits they bring.
Foraging Violets and How to Identify Them
Have you ever sat quietly in the middle of a field of violets? Try it sometime and see if your heart doesn’t just sync with the rhythm of nature. Violets are in abundance in the early springtime. With their heart shaped leaves and purple, white, or even yellow petals, not only are they beautiful in the landscape, but they are good to eat. They are a low-growing flower that are prolific in the spring. This means that the more you cut, the more they grow back. Just be sure to not cut back all the leaves and flowers so they can continue growing.
Is it safe to eat wild violets? Absolutely! You can eat the entire flower: petals, stems, leaves, sepals and all. Just be careful where you forage them. Avoid areas close to foot or car traffic as well as areas that have been sprayed with pesticides. You will also want to steer clear of areas you know your favorite canine has marked for his territory (if you catch my drift). Preferably, an open field or in your own garden are the best places to forage.
Healing Properties of Violets
Violets are loaded with Vitamins C and A. They are good for coughs and colds and help with issues of inflammation such as eczema, dry skin, bug bites, or varicose veins. Judging by the shape of their easily recognizable leaves, they are good for the heart as well. In fact, many times in nature God gives us clues as the the benefits of plants by their shape or color. For instance, avocados are good for pregnant momma’s (look at the pit tucked snugly inside the green flesh), and walnuts are great for the brain. Purple plants are great for blood flow (the color of blood inside your veins) which is why violets are great for issues like eczema or respiratory issues. They help get things moving.
Violets for Heart Health
As I stated above regarding the heart shape of the violet leaves, violets are good for the heart. Not only for calming the heart in times of stress, but violets contain rutin and salicylic acid which are biological plant compounds that reduce inflammation and increase blood circulation. This may help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Isn’t God a genius?
Violets: Oh the Many Things You Can Do…
There are so many wonderful things to do with violets. Not only is it a fun time out in nature with the kids collecting these beautiful, edible flowers, but there are so many activities and recipes you can do with your violet treasures after you have gathered them. Besides garnishing your fresh, spring salads with these purple pops of pleasure, or decorating your favorite baked goods like these cupcakes, there are many simple recipes you can prepare along with your children.
Infusion and Syrup
Preparing a violet infusion syrup that can be mixed with sparkling water is a a tasty and healing toast to your health. The children enJOY preparing it, and watching the beautiful aqua marine color emerge. In a quart-sized jar with tight fitting lid, place fresh or dried violets covered in boiling water and steeped for 4-8 hours. I place the infusion in my Excalibur Food Dehydrator on a low setting just to keep it warm for 4 hours. After this point, you can either drink it as a tea, or make a simple syrup using 1 cup of the slightly heated, strong violet tea and 1 cup raw honey. Add 1 part syrup to 3 parts sparkling water for a refreshing drink.
Violet Ice Cubes
Want to make your Violet Fizzy Water fit for the fairies? Violet ice cubes are simple. In an ice cube tray place a violet in each compartment. Fill half full with filtered water and freeze for 2 hours. Once the flowers have frozen into the water, fill the remaining compartment full of water and freeze another 2 hours. Then, pop out and serve.
A violet tincture is easy peasy. Make sure you collect your violets after the morning dew has evaporated and the sun has warmed them a bit. You won’t be able to wash the violets because the leaves and flowers must be completely free of water to prevent molding. Gently chop the violets and leaves to allow for proper infusion. Add your fresh violets and leaves to a sterile jar and cover with vodka to up to an inch of the top of the jar and secure with a lid.
You should have a 1:3 ratio of plant material to menstrum for the most effective infusion. Store in a dark place for 4 weeks, shaking occasionally. After the time is up, strain your tincture and place in a 4 oz glass dropper tincture bottle. Violets contain mucilage, so this tincture is wonderful for coating an inflamed throat or helping to expel mucus from congested lungs with a dry cough. Also, use for a restful sleep or for skin issues.
Help for Sore Throats and Dry Coughs
I make my tincture so that I can prepare an easy cough & throat spray that only contains violet tincture, raw honey, and water. In a 2 oz glass bottle with spray top, add 2 T prepared violet tincture, 2 T raw honey, and 1 T warm water. Shake and spray in the back of the throat 3 times a day using 2-3 squirts. Store in the refrigerator and consume within a few months.
Violets dry beautifully. Pressing the flowers and leaves between waxed paper underneath large books is an easy and economical way to press flowers. It only takes a week or two to fully dry. You could go all out and buy a flower press, but I have always found it easy to press them this way. You can use your dried and pressed flowers to decorate homemade cards or frame them in an arrangement as we did to bring a little bit of the springtime into our home decor. Either way, preserving the beautiful violets is a fun way to capture their brief visit with a lovely keepsake.
Herb Fairies: Botany & Herbalism for Children
If you haven’t heard about Herb Fairies from Learning Herbs, I encourage you to check it out. Designed with twelve different featured herbs, one for each month, according to the season, children dive into the world of herbs through a story of the herb fairies. Brilliantly thought out, the stories are delightful. The package includes everything from recipes, coloring pages, to practical ways of incorporating each herb into daily life. Our children have loved learning about dandelions, chickweed and violets in the spring, calendula, plantain, lemon balm and elderberry in the summer, and even pine in the winter months. What a fun way to empower your children with the ability to forage and use the herbs they find all around them in nature.
For example, my children have grown up learning about herbs. One afternoon, my son was stung by a bee while playing ball. He started to freak out because of the pain. I yelled from across the yard, “You know what to do. There is no need to fear.” He stopped screaming and immediately went looking for plantain. He picked it, chewed it up in his mouth making a spit poultice, and immediately applied it to his sting. The pain instantly was gone and he was off playing without another thought. Knowledge is power.
Wildcraft: Botany & Herbalism Game for Children
I have to say, I love herbs and have been busy taking a course to eventually become a master herbalist. Because I love herbs, my children have grown up with them all around us. In fact, Wildcraft, a game developed by Learning Herbs, is a favorite that is pulled out often. Together the children have to make their way to the huckleberry patch to gather berries so grandma can bake a pie. Along the way, they run into issues such as bee stings, fatigue, poison ivy, and fear, and they have to collect the remedies to cure their ailments. In the process of working together, the children become familiar with herbs and their uses. It is a delightful game they want to play again and again.
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Check out my Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture for a healthy way to strengthen your immune system. As with any herb or preparation recommended, I need to remind you that I am a mama and not a doctor. My intentions are not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am merely relaying how an herb can aide in building the immune system, so that the body can heal itself…the way God created it to. For educational purposes only.