Native Violet leaves can be eaten and used as a thickener substitute, a tea, or steamed, sauteed or stirred into dishes of your choice. Violet flowers are also edible, for a dash of colour or fragrance to add to your presentation of savoury dishes, salads, or desserts. The flowers can be crystallized for decorating cakes and desserts or frozen into ice blocks to use in drinks for that wow factor.
So why are Native Violets a pharmacy?
According to Dr Karen Bridgman of Lotus Health in Neutral Bay, there are many therapeutic uses for Native Violets, with the leaves containing greater medicinal benefits than the flowers. The leaves have been shown to contain phenolic glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, rutin, quercetin, alkaloids, mucilage, tannins and salicylates as well as vitamin A and C. According to Dr Bridgman with its anti-inflammatory and mucilaginous properties, violet tea sweetened with raw honey can relieve coughs and bronchitis. The mucilaginous properties of violet leaf tea also soothe the gut and its prebiotic properties helps to restore healthy populations of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The flavonoids, quercetin and rutin are traditional remedies to strengthen blood vessel walls to reduce hemorrhoids and varicose veins. These can be treated by taking a tea internally, or by making a cream, or infused oil to use externally. Native Violet leaves have the potential role in stimulating and potentially detoxifying the lymphatic system. And if that's not enough, Dr Bergman says, violet leaf preparations can be used as a wash to relieve the distressing symptoms of eczema or dermatitis. She suggests using the leaves and making them into a cream, or infused oil, to relieve dry or chafed skin, abrasions and insect bites.
So, with all these amazing health benefits, perhaps it's time to sit back and relax with a cuppa, made with the leaves of Native Violet, and just enjoy its mild peppery taste. And in the back of our mind, we know it's doing us the power of good.