Viola hirta

Botanical Name : Viola hirta
Family: Violaceae
Genus:     Viola
Species: V. hirta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malpighiales

Synonyms :Viola odorata. Viola hirta subsp. brevifimbriata W. Beck

Common Name:  Sweet Violet

Other Name :Hairy violet.

Habitat : Viola hirta have been found and is confined to the cold Temperate Zone, in Europe, N. and W. Asia, extending as far as N.-W. India. It is absent in Wales from Brecon and Radnor, Pembroke, Cardigan, Merioneth, and from Mid Lancs, and the Isle of Man, but elsewhere it is universal. In Scotland it does not occur in Roxburgh, Berwick, Haddington, Edinburgh, Fife, Forfar, Kincardine. From Forfar it ranges to the south of England, and is found at a height of 1000 ft. in Yorks. it occurs also in Ireland.It is found growing on dry banks, and in woods, preferring drier conditions. It may be found in damper areas in woods in low-lying situations. This species has a less wide range than Sweet Violet (Viola odorata). Note it is considered by some sources to be the same species as Viola odorata.

Description:
Viola hirta is an evergreen Perennial plant growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).It does not have erect stem, the leaves arising from the rootstock directly. The leaves are likewise heart-shaped, but in this case the stoles or trailing stems with buds are absent or very short, and the bracts are below the middle of the flower-stalk. Moreover, the whole plant is hairy, or roughly hairy, giving it a greyer, less green, appearance when dry.
It is  is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Feb to April, and the seeds ripen from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Cleistogamous.The plant is self-fertile….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:   
Succeeds in most soils but prefers a cool moist well-drained humus-rich soil in partial or dappled shade and protection from scorching winds. When grown in the open it prefers a moderately heavy rich soil. Plants have done very well in a hot dry sunny position on our Cornish trial grounds. Tolerates sandstone and limestone soils. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Sweet violets are very ornamental plants, there are many named varieties. They produce their delicately scented flowers in late winter and early spring – these are designed for fertilisation by bees and since there are few bees around at this time of year these flowers seldom set seed. However, the plants also produce a second type of flower later in the year. These never open, but seed is produced within them by self-fertilization. The plants will often self-sow freely when well-sited. They can also spread fairly rapidly at the roots when they are growing well. Responds well to an annual replanting in rich loose leafy soils. All members of this genus have more or less edible leaves and flower buds, though those species with yellow flowers can cause diarrhoea if eaten in large quantities.

Propagation:          
Seed – best sown in the autumn in a cold frame. The seed requires a period of cold stratification and the germination of stored seed can be erratic. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in the autumn or just after flowering. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though we have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.

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Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Young leaves and flower buds are eaten raw or cooked. Usually available all through the winter. The leaves have a very mild flavour, though they soon become quite tough as they grow older. They make a very good salad, their mild flavour enabling them to be used in bulk whilst other stronger-tasting leaves can then be added to give more flavour[K]. When added to soup they thicken it in much the same way as okra. Also used as a flavouring in puddings etc. A tea can be made from the leaves. Flowers – raw. Used to decorate salads and desserts. A sweet mild flavour with a delicate perfume, the flowers are an especially welcome decoration for the salad bowl since they are available in late winter. The flowers are also used fresh to flavour and colour confectionery. A soothing tea can be made from the leaves and flowers. A leaf extract is used to flavour sweets, baked goods and ice cream

Medicinal Uses:
Viola hirta has a long and proven history of folk use, especially in the treatment of cancer and whooping cough. It also contains salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin. It is therefore effective in the treatment of headaches, migraine and insomnia. The whole plant is anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, and laxative. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, coughs, asthma, and cancer of the breast, lungs or digestive tract. Externally, it is used to treat mouth and throat infections. The plant can either be used fresh, or harvested when it comes into flower and then be dried for later use. The flowers are demulcent and emollient. They are used in the treatment of biliousness and lung troubles. The petals are made into a syrup and used in the treatment of infantile disorders. The roots is a much stronger expectorant than other parts of the plant but they also contain the alkaloid violine which at higher doses is strongly emetic and purgative. They are gathered in the autumn and dried for later use. The seeds are diuretic and purgative. They have been used in the treatment of urinary complaints are considered to be a good remedy for gravel. A homeopathic remedy is made from the whole fresh plant. It is considered useful in the treatment of spasmodic coughs and rheumatism of the wrist. An essential oil from the flowers is used in aromatherapy in the treatment of bronchial complaints, exhaustion and skin complaints.

Other Uses:
Essential;  Litmus.

An essential oil from the flowers and leaves is used in perfumery. 1000kg of leaves produces about 300 – 400g absolute. The flowers are used to flavour breath fresheners. A pigment extracted from the flowers is used as a litmus to test for acids and alkalines. Plants can be grown as a ground cover when spaced about 30cm apart each way. They make an effective weed-excluding cover

Known Hazards:     May cause vomiting for some persons. Possible additive effect with laxatives.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/v/viohai11.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_hirta
http://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Viola+odorata

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