Herbs & Plants

Viola canina

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Botanical Name : Viola canina
Family:    Violaceae
Genus:    Viola
Species:V. canina
Order:    Malpighiales

Common Names: Heath dog-violet or Heath violet

Habitat : Viola canina is native to Europe, where it is found in the uplands of box hill in Dorset, heaths, fens, and moist woodlands, especially on acidic soils is  native to Europe, where it is found in the uplands of box hill in Dorset, heaths, fens, and moist woodlands, especially on acidic soils.

Viola canina is a perennial herb growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in). It may be found on dry hedge-banks and in the woods, flowering from April to August, a longer flowering period than the Sweet Violet. It is a very variable plant in size of leaf and blossom, form of leaf and other parts, but there seem to be no permanent and reliable differences to justify the division into distinct subspecies. The root-stock of the Dog Violet is short and from it rises a tuft of leaves. The flowering stems are at first short, but as time goes on they elongate considerably until sometimes they may be found nearly a foot long. The leaves are heart-shaped and with serrated edges, but vary much in their proportions. They are ordinarily, like the stems, quite smooth, while in the Sweet Violet we often get them more or less covered with soft hairs. The flowers are scentless, generally larger than those of the Sweet Violet, not only paler in colour, but like most purple flowers, occasionally varying to white.

The  Viola canina differs principally from the Sweet Violet in its long straggling stems and paler blue flowers. It possesses the same properties, being powerfully cathartic and emetic. At one time a medicine made from it had some reputation in curing skin diseases.

Prefers a cool moist well-drained humus-rich soil in partial or dappled shade and protection from scorching winds. Tolerates sandstone and limestone soils but becomes chlorotic if the pH is too high. Prefers a pH between 6 and 6.5. 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.

Seed – best sown in the autumn in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in early spring in a cold frame. 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.

Edible Uses: Young leaves and flower buds are eaten  raw or cooked. When added to soups, they thicken them in much the same way as okra. A tea can be made from the leaves.

Medicinal Uses: The flowers and leaves are powerfully cathartic and emetic. The plant has also had a reputation for curing skin diseases.

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.

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