Foraging violets and brewing tea

I like to do a little foraging every year in early spring. I'm ready for my garden to start producing and it's entirely too early, but the warm weather has me itching for garden activities! So I do some foraging since many native plants are ready to be harvested before the garden even gets planted. Plantain is plentiful this time of year as are wild violets. Violets are one of my favorite flowers to forage and use for teas and syrups because not only do violets taste good and have some amazing healing properties, but they turn everything a beautiful purple color!

Wild violet flowers & a cup of violet tea

While these pretty little flowers are one of the first blooms of spring, they don't last long so pick them while you can. In fact, harvest as much violet as you need for the year because they won't be back till next year! (ethically foraging them of course) Violet has been used for centuries for it's many healing properties.

Both the flower and the leaves of the wild violet are edible but the stems are not. The flowers and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Violet leaves contain fiber, vitamins A & C and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are used to encourage healing and soothe the digestive, respiratory and urinary tracts. I think the easiest way to take violet is by making violet tea or tincture. 


Make a strong violet tea and allow to cool then gargle with it to soothe a sore throat. Or swish it gently in your mouth for about 20 seconds to soothe sore or inflamed gums.

Violet can be infused into oils and made into salves or lotions to soothe skin irritations, sores, rashes and even eczema.

Foraging for violets

Common blue violet or Viola Sororia, has pretty good reputation as a weed. It likes to grow in partial shade, so you can often find it at the edges of the woods or alongside the house or garage. It grows on the east side of my house, right where the shade starts around 1 pm.

The common blue violet has purple flowers with bearded spurred petals. It only gets to be about 6" tall. It has heart shaped leaves and is native to eastern North America. Most people consider it a weed. Though it does produce seeds, it mainly spreads through runners.


Violet is one of the easiest plants to forage for, but to avoid misidentifying other plants, only harvest violets when the flowers are present. There are several other plants that have similar leaves but are not edible...so you want to be very careful not to confuse them!

When collecting violets, I pinch off the flower at the top of the stem. Pluck leaves separately. I like to harvest the smaller leaves as they are more tender when used raw.

Over the years I have made violet syrup, violet jelly and violet tea. Candied Violets are a unique garnish for on desserts. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. They can also be sauteed and eaten similar to spinach, or added to soups.

Related reading from the Herbal Academy: A family herb, the Violet plant.

Wild violet tea

You can make a tea with both the flowers and leaves or just the flowers. The leaves taste a little stronger to me, but the flowers make a prettier color! To make violet tea simply place a tablespoon or two of fresh,clean violet flowers in your tea cup. Cover with boiling water and allow to steep for about 10 minutes. The flowers give off a lovely blueish color that deepens to purple the more violets you use.

Strain out the flowers and drink. I like to add a little bit of honey, especially if I have any throat irritation. It's a very soothing combination. Add a few leaves if you want a stronger tea.  


Preserving violets

Since the common blue violet only bloom for a few months in spring, you'll want to harvest and preserve them for year round use. My favorite way to preserve violets is by dehydrating them. 

Dehydrate the flowers and leaves of the violet plant by rinsing them gently under cool water, then spread them out on a dehydrator screen. They dry pretty quickly, and my last batch only took about 3 hours on 104° F. Not all dehydrators have the same settings, so aim for between 100°F and 110° for flowers and herbs.


Once dry, I store my herbs in glass jars in a cool, dry place. I allow them a day to settle then open the jar and check them. Crumble a leaf between your fingers. If they don't feel completely dry, pop them back in the dehydrator for an hour or so. Extra moisture can cause herbs to mold or spoil quickly, so you need them to be completely dry before storage.

The common blue violet is not to be confused with African Violets which is a fuzzy leaved, purple flowered potted plant many people keep in their homes. That one is toxic. The one we're talking about is actually good for you but if you're not sure which plant you're foraging from, ask someone whos more familiar with it. Have fun!

Like to forage for wild medicinals? Check out my other posts on foraging and using herbs medicinally!

~L

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I am not a doctor or other health care professional nor do I claim to be. I am not trained in any medical field. I am simply passing on information that has worked for me. This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. see a Dr if you are ill. Click for my full disclaimer.

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