A Gift of Violets

A coffee filter with a violet plant inside: a gift from a neighbor and friend from the Standing Rock Seed Exchange, who has a fantastic garden in another one of the North Dakota communities on the reservation.
These lovely little native plants pop up everywhere in the garden, and are sometimes considered weeds, so a lot of gardeners transplant or rehome them. They do well in a variety of conditions, from full sun to partial shade, and they like to be kept damp. I planted this one near a storm drain, where it would thrive.

There are plenty of articles online extolling the health benefits of violets, everything from breathing medicine to cancer. But I am not personally familiar with these properties, and I do not want to make any false claims, so I can only comment on what I have personally done with violets. The flowers are edible and make a nice addition to salads. You can also dry them for later use.

My mom also makes violet jelly sometimes. You need to gather a lot of violets to make a jelly, though if your yard is overrun with violets, this might be a good way to use them. The jelly turns out a lovely light-lavender color, but it should be eaten quickly if you want to enjoy the color — within in a few years, it will fade to a yellow-green color (but still taste the same). The taste is really mild, but if you love violets, it might be worth the effort.

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