Scientific name: Viola species
Abundance: uncommon
What: Leaves, flowers
How: Leaves and flowers raw (great in salads), tea from flowers
Where: small, heart-shaped flowers in shady, moist areas
When: Winter (in Houston), Spring, early summer
Nutritional Value: very rich in vitamin A,C
Nutritional Value: Violets contain the chemical Violine which, in VERY large doses, can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Medicinal Summary:
Roots/Leaves/Flowers - expectorant; mild laxative; wound healer; soothes upper respiratory and skin inflammations; reduces blood sugar (poultice, tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: Each leaf is directly connected to underground tuber.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are typically heart-shaped (cordate) to kidney-shaped (reniform), with a varying size range.

Leaf Venation: Palmate venation, with multiple, large veins branching out from the base of the leaf to points along its edge. Smaller, secondary veins branch out from the larger veins.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin can be entire or toothed, depending on the species.

Leaf Color: Leaf color varies but is often green with varying shades.

Flower Structure: Five-petaled flowers with a distinctive lower petal (spur), usually solitary on a long stem. Flowers are approximately 1" in diameter across their widest spread.

Flower Color: Flower colors can vary widely among species, including shades of purple, blue, pink, and white. Stripes of color may be present.

Fruit: The fruit is a capsule containing small seeds.

Seed: Small seeds are contained within the capsules.

Stem: A true stem is nonexistent. Each leaf stem passed separately down through the soil to an underground, segmented tuber. 

Hairs: Fine hairs may be present on some species but are not a prominent feature.

Height: Wild Viola species vary in height, typically ranging from a few inches to about a foot.

Wild violet plant.

Wild violet seed pods.

Close-up of wild violet flower.

Wild violet leaves and tubers.

Texas distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wild violets are a wonderful winter/spring nibble and if you're lucky, summer and fall, too! They prefer cool, damp areas of woods during the summer but during the winter they can be found in sunnier locations including yards. The heart-shaped leaves grow in a rosette form from an underground tuber and the leaf stems usually enter the soil individually. The violet flowers have five petals with the lowest petal being significantly thicker than the other petals. Only only flower forms per flower stalk. The "seed pods" hang down from individual stalks and kind of have the appearance of purple/brown bell peppers.

The leaves and flowers of wild violets are loaded with vitamin A & C which help keep many an Appalachian child nourished. The leaves and flowers are eaten raw or mixed in any sort of salad or green smoothie.

A reader of this blog wrote me of a bad experience after eating a bunch of wild violets sautéed with butter and garlic. Later that night she was struck by horrible stomach distress and spent the night in the bathroom. This issue had never come up in my experience or in any reference books I own. Further research turned up a record in an old Indian (Asian subcontinent) herbal book that the violet compound "violine" is an emeto-cathartic (makes you purge from both ends!) in large doses. The fact that this isn't mentioned anywhere else suggests it is an extremely rare issue and not one I'm concerned about when eating reasonable amounts of violets.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Privacy & Amazon Paid Promotion Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The prices you pay for the item isn't affected, my sales commission comes out of Amazon's pocket.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.