It’s fair to say that most people are drawn to flowers with colorful petals and unique features. Many don’t know that sometimes the prettiest flowers aren’t just your typical ornamental plant and are actually weeds.
This is particularly true for the eye-catching features and vibrant shades of the Wild (or Common Blue) Violet. Keep reading to learn about this unique weed, including how to identify it, get rid of it, and even use it to your benefit.
How to Identify Wild Violets
As the name suggests, the Wild Violet (Viola sororia) is most known for its violet petals. They’re a low-growing plant type that tends to favor woods, stream banks, and shady areas. These weeds can grow from about six to ten inches tall, depending on the climate and soil.
Although typically purple, the flowers vary in shade from blue to violet or even yellow and white. Each flower appears on its own leafless stalk and tends to bloom from early spring into summer.
The leaves of Viola sororia are arranged in an alternating pattern and are oblong, heart, or kidney-shaped. They have a saw-toothed margin and can grow from 13-50mm in width.
What Makes It a Weed
A weed can be defined as any plant that grows where it’s not wanted. This is a perfect description for Wild Violets as they self-seed and can freely and quickly take over any lawn or plant bed. They’re difficult to get rid of and often form in clusters that spread via rhizomes or seeds.
They have the ability to self-pollinate, which allows them to continue their growth and spread, even in the absence of insect or natural pollination.
Problems Created by Wild Violets
With their delicate and misleadingly aesthetic blooms, the Wild Violet, or Common Blue Violet, can create a few challenges when it becomes established in your yard.
It’s an aggressive weed type with an unusual growth pattern that creates thick mats of leaves. This allows them to choke out and destroy other plants in your garden.
They’re also very tough and can tolerate long periods without rain, making them even more indestructible.
How Wild Violets Spread
This invasive plant spreads through its rhizomes, which are horizontal stems that are found underground. The rhizomes send out roots and shoots from their nodes to stimulate reproduction. This ability greatly contributes to their tendency to easily overtake an area if they grow unchecked for a long period of time.
They can also propagate by seeds. When mature, the Wild Violet ill produce seeds that spread naturally. This generally occurs in mid-May when the flowers begin to bloom and continue into the early summer months.
How to Get Rid of Them
Getting rid of pesky plants that have taken over your land can be challenging, and Wild Violets are no exception. This type of weed is perennial with long taproots and therefore requires a broadleaf killer.
Ensure the herbicide you use contains Dicamba (BioAdvanced Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer does) to get rid of the weeds without damaging grass or other plants nearby.
The best time to eradicate Wild Violets is during the fall, so the herbicide can travel down to the taproot where the plant stores nutrients for winter. With a fall application, your chances of killing the entire plant significantly increase.
This weed type is also fairly easy to pull by hand. First, moisten your area with a garden hose and wait about 30 minutes for the soil to loosen.
Using your hands, grasp the main stem near the soil like and pull straight up. Young plants have a shallow root system, making their removal easier. For more established clumps, try using a garden fork to dig under the plant, lift from underneath, and remove as much of the root system as possible.
Where They Came From
Viola sororia is native to many areas throughout central/eastern Canada and the U.S. They are sometimes found in Europe and Australia but are mainly found in these North American regions.
What They’re Good For
Although they have some undesirable qualities, Wild Violet leaves have medicinal properties. They are antioxidant-rich, have high levels of vitamin C, and have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes them a great remedy for coughs and colds.
How to Use This Weed
If you ever find yourself plagued with Wild Violets taking over your garden, this section will highlight some of our favorite ways to use them to your benefit.
For Making Tea
You’ll need a few simple ingredients to make Common Blue Violet Tea. Gather two to three cups of fresh Violet blossoms and boil about two cups of water in a saucepan.
After cleaning your flowers, place them into a mason jar and pour the boiling water over them. Let the flowers steep overnight, and use a fine mesh strainer to get rid of any remaining petals.
Add honey to taste, and you’ll have a sweet and floral tea perfect for enjoying at any time of the day.
For Medicinal Use
Using Wild Violets to make a multi-use syrup is a great way to reap their medicinal benefits. Consuming Wild Violet syrup will help fight coughs, soothe sore throats, and even help reduce fevers. It’s also great for relieving congestion.
Check out this recipe to learn how to make your own Common Blue Violet syrup and ideas on how to use the syrup in various dishes.
Candied Wild Violets
Try candying your Wild Violet flowers for a sweet treat that’s packed with nutrients. All you’ll need is your flowers, egg whites, cane sugar, and optional lemon essential oil. Wild Violet Candies can be enjoyed by themselves but are also a great addition on top of cakes or in your favorite baked goods.
A Beautiful Weed Type
Although they can be frustrating to deal with, their beauty and medicinal qualities make up this plant’s complexities.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with weeds popping up in your garden or yard, remember they have healthy, delicious, and unique uses just waiting to be explored!
If you feel like you need to learn more about these pesky garden tenants, check out our weeds page to learn all about different weed varieties, treatment options, and surprising information.