Violet, Common Blue - (Viola papilionacea)

Common Name: Violet, Common Blue

Scientific Name: Viola papilionacea

Family Name: Violet (Violaceae)

Other Common Names: Chicken Fights, Rooster-hoods, Hooded Blue Violet

Flower Color: Blue

Habitat: Meadows and Moist Woods

General Bloom Dates: May - August

General Characteristics:
The blue-purple, 3/4", irregular flowers are on a leafless stalk that doesn't extend above the long stalked, toothed, heart shaped basal leaves, which are between 3" - 8" tall.

Plant Lore:
The blue violet (in general) have been used as symbols of love and faithfulness.
The spring flower of the violet is actually a show piece for the plant as it is actually sterile. The seeds are produced in an inconspicuous brown flower growing in the autumn. This flower is self pollinating and will not open until the tiny, round, black seeds are ready to drop. These seeds are for establishing new colonies of violets as the main form of propagation is through the underground rhizomes.
The nickname "Chicken-fights" and "Rooster-hoods" comes from an old game similar to the tradition of breaking "wishbones." In this game however, two youngsters would each pick a violet and hook the sharply curved stems together and pull until one flower lost its head and the game.

Modern Uses of this Plant:
The Common Blue Violet is the state flower of many states, including: Wisconsin, Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
As the most common of the eighty some cultivated and wild violets this plant is often overlooked as a delicacy of the spring woods. The leaves are very unique tasting in that they are mild, sweet, and slightly peppery all at the same time. They make a good addition to any spring salad. Not only will the mucilaginous (slightly gummy) leaves add a nice touch to a soup, but they will also thicken it, and they are great sauteed and served as a vegetable. I have also seen candied violet flowers for sale in fancy candy stores. The candying process is simply immerse the whole flowers into a boiling sugar syrup and allow them to air dry. These flowers are a colorful decoration to fancy spring cakes.
The leaves and flowers of the violet are considered blood purifiers or detoxifiers. Violets contain rutin which strengthens the capillaries and are a source of Vitamins A & C. Violets happen to contain more Vitamin C (3 times more, comparatively) than oranges! Violet leaf tea was once used as a remedy for lung congestion and infections, while a violet leaf poultice is soothing for all kinds of skin irritations, small wounds and rashes.