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Nature in your Yard – Heralds of Spring.

April 7, 2012

Violets

April is an exciting month botanically-speaking, when many wildflowers are flourishing.  You may need to go no farther than your own yard to see a definitive spring flower. To many, this plant symbolizes spring!

This year, I saw my first in the middle of March here in central Ohio, and they’ve been steadily increasing in number into April.  They come in with spring, and they usually stop blooming at the beginning of summer- though there’s a twist to this that I’ll discuss later.

Violets are a genus of plants with hundreds of species worldwide.  Their distinctive 5-petaled flowers are low to the ground, and like growing in moist areas with some shade, whether on lawns or along forest edges and paths.  Their leaves are often heart-shaped.  Notice the hairy ‘beards’ near the center of the flower.  The flower stems are without leaves, which grow from the center of the plant itself.

A gardener’s favorite, you can see why they’re popular in yards as well as in the woods.  They are quite handsome, and the fact that their appearance is a signal that winter is over probably boosts their popularity.

Violets are often associated with positive virtues in popular culture, such as love, virtue, and faithfulness. Nutritionally, they are rich in vitamins A and C and contain antioxidants; the flowers can be made into tea, and the nutritious leaves added to salads and other dishes (careful when picking them for eating– not all violets are palatable).

Medicinally, violets have been used since ancient times for a wide variety of purposes, including as a balm for heart problems and gout as well as stomach pain and a topical wound treatment.  It’s even been used to battle arthritis due to anti-inflammatory properties.

Another use that we make of violets is as an ingredient in perfume- an oil is extracted from the plant that produces a well-known scent.  I bet many people have fond associations with this pleasing odor.

The species of this flower that we are most familiar with is the Common Blue Violet, also known as Purple Violet.  But purple, even though it is the predominant color, is not the only shade that violets come in- other colors can be found, including white and yellow.

Violets are herbaceous plants, which means that they have temporary stems and leaves.  Curiously, the flowers that we notice are sterile- after the vaunted blooming season, in the autumn they will produce hard-to-notice bland flowers that will self-fertilize and have their seeds largely distributed by ants.  Nature works in interesting ways.

For now, enjoy these heralds of spring!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2012 12:43 am

    Thank you for another great and very informative post!

  2. April 8, 2012 3:13 am

    Very interesting, and some beautiful images. Thank you!

  3. April 8, 2012 9:58 am

    Like you we have many varieties of violets and I love photographing them and enjoying their beauty. Thanks for sharing!

  4. April 8, 2012 11:48 am

    Hi Watching Seasons, Beautiful wild Violets. We have some here but they often are in the areas we need to mow so away they go! Have a super nice day and Happy Easter!

  5. April 8, 2012 7:35 pm

    I love violets. As the old saying among gardeners goes-if you have a violet in your yard then you will always have them. They are prolific plants!

  6. April 9, 2012 2:02 am

    We used to have a small patch that would show up in our yard. I love those little surprises.

  7. April 9, 2012 12:44 pm

    Beautiful and very ‘Springy’ 🙂

  8. April 9, 2012 7:42 pm

    Lovely post! Another virtue of violets is that certain species of butterflies lay their eggs in violet leaves; grow violets and grow butterflies 🙂

  9. April 10, 2012 10:37 am

    I have always really enjoyed the violets that come up in my yard–though we don’t have as many varieties as you captured. Last year I decided to use them in a salad (http://artofnaturalliving.com/2011/05/19/a-locavore%E2%80%99s-challenge-ginger-violet-salad/ ). While not generally a flowers-in-food lover, these were nice and our guinea pigs enjoyed the leftovers.

  10. April 10, 2012 1:25 pm

    Such pretty colors! Thanks always for your posts. Ellen

  11. April 11, 2012 3:53 pm

    I love violets. I really enjoyed your post, both photos and words. I had no idea there are yellow violets. I’ve never seen them before.

  12. April 11, 2012 11:12 pm

    Ah, just in time … I came across the yellow variety a few days ago and thought, ‘these sure look like violets, but they aren’t purple.’ Thanks for the lesson!

  13. April 14, 2012 12:52 am

    We finally have violets blooming in our yard, but I haven’t seen the wild ones yet. Perhaps next week when I go seek out the trilliums that should be in bloom by now.

  14. April 14, 2012 10:38 am

    Great W.S…your last two posts take on a special meaning to most of us…why?…because most of us never take the time to “get down” and view these seemingly insignificant plants…but Oh how we love them…we see them beside the road or in the field beside next to our house…just all over the place…the nice thing…you took the time to “do it”…those wildflowers are countless, i believe…thanks for taking the time the rest of us didn’t…I enjoyed these so much…thanks again…

  15. April 14, 2012 11:27 am

    Flowers that bring joy and inspiration to the heart. I love Spring. the colors are amazing and the weather just perfect. It’s a time for dreams to happen and to explore the world with a positive outlook. Beautiful post. Thanks…

  16. April 14, 2012 9:34 pm

    Thanks for the great comments everyone!

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