Violets for me are synonymous. They dot the brown and gray landscape with
beautiful blue-purple, yellow and white showy petals. They pave the way for the
deluge of flowers and color that invariably follow their appearance. In fact of
the nearly 250 Violets worldwide, 85 are found in the North American continent
with most of these in the East.
(Viola sp.) are characterized as a low-lying plant that is capable of growing in
variety of habitats despite its preference for shady woods. The leaves are often
heart shaped but not always, Birdsfoot Violet (Viola pedata) is an example of
this. The flowers have five petals
and sepals. The upper petals act as wide area literally guiding insects to land
where the nectar awaits. The lower petal is a hollow spur. But did you know that
Violets have two flowers each season? The second flower hidden under the leaves
of the plant is rarely seen and usually blooms in early summer, long after the
spring flower is gone. What is interesting about this second flower is that it
is self-contained and not open to cross-pollination. The seeds it produces are
self-pollinated and exact replicas of the parent. It is no wonder that this is
such a prolific plant!
is a considerable amount of folklore regarding this wonderful plant. Zeus was
said to have changed the tears of his mistress, the nymph Io, into Violets. The
Romans would circle their heads with wreaths of this flower believing it would
dispel drunkenness. During his first exile, Napoleon used the Violet as symbol
of his promise to return. The Violet has also been symbol of modesty,
simplicity, humility and constancy in love.
Violet has been used medicinally for centuries. The leaves are loaded with
vitamins A and C and were often added to salads. The leaves and flowers were
also used as a cough remedy particularly in conditions that affected the
bronchial areas. It is said to be effective in clearing catarrh. The roots in
large doses act as an emetic. This plant is being researched for remedial
effects it may be having on certain skin cancers.
bees are the primary pollinator for Violets. Violet seeds are favored by upland
game birds like Mourning Dove, Ruffed Grouse, Bobwhite and Wild Turkey.
This is also a food source for Cottontail Rabbits, Juncos and
Mary T. Harrington
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