If you are new to foraging, here is the perfect plant to start out with! Violets! They are found in almost everyone’s backyard (in the northeast anyway), easy to identify and you can use them SO many ways!
Many consider this little plant as a weed. But, this adorable little plant is quite medicinal! You should definitely want to keep it in your yards. It comes back every year too!
The common violet or Viola soroia, is native to the eastern part of North America. They have a vibrant purple flower. There are some varieties that are cultivars of the native violet. Those are the ones with white flowers and blue streaks. Still edible- but not the true native variety.
The leaves and flowers are both edible. The leaves are heart shaped and smooth. If you look directly under the flower, the stem will make a little hook underneath. That’s an easy way to identify these Vitamin A and Vitamin C packed little cuties. Don’t eat the roots as they can cause nausea and vomiting.
Here is a few ways I like to use wild violets:
- In salads
- On sandwiches
- A garnish for any dish
- Flowers frozen into ice cubes (always pretty during a party)
- Jelly (it makes the most beautiful, delicately flavored, lavender colored jelly)
- Steam the leaves or sauté in garlic and butter
- Soups- add a handful of leaves into a thick soup
- Tea(my favorite) add some fresh lemon juice before you serve it and it turns bright purple!
Violets are considered antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. Some studies have shown that this super flower can aid the lymphatic glands in detoxing. Violets have also been used to effectively treat acne, eczema and psoriasis.
So this spring, pick some cute little violets and try some of my suggested uses!