Native Plant Highlight: Bird-Foot Violet
Viola pedata L.
Eastern and Central North America
USDA Hardiness Zones:
4, 5, 6, 7, and 8
Considered by some to be the most beautiful Violet in the world, Bird-Foot Violets, dubbed the "Queen" of Violets, range from pale lilac to a rich, dark purple and sport beautiful orange bouquets of Stamen in the center. This perennial wildflower grows in clumps that are short and close to the ground. It is native to pinelands, sandy prairies, glades, and rocky, open woods. With its showy blue-violet flowers and distinctive birds-foot shaped leaves, this plant is very easy to identify!
Bird-Foot Violets are best grown in sandy or gravelly soil with dry to medium moisture and good drainage. While they do enjoy bathing in full sun, these wildflowers will also flourish in partial shade. As mentioned above, Bird-Foot Violets are perennials (plants that live more than two years) that bloom from March to June and then reseed themselves for the following year. For ideal growing conditions, Bird-Foot Violets need to be kept free of any weeds or other aggressive plants.
Need a tip? - Use this w
ildflower as a showy addition to a rock garden OR plant it along the border of a sunny, gravelly path.
Ethno botanical: This wildflower has several different medicinal uses. A poultice made from the leaves can be used to stay the pain of a headache and one made from the crushed roots can be applied to boils. Infusions made from the plant have also been used to treat dysentery, coughs, and colds.
Landscaping: Bird-Foot Violets are a great addition to any Natural Landscape. Beyond its beautiful foliage, this wildflower can adapt to different soil conditions and, once established, is very low maintenance. You can use them in rock beds, garden beds, and as a ground cover for banks or slopes. Fun Gardening Fact - Because of its lack of appeal to pests and insects, an infusion of the root has been used to soak corn seeds before planting in order to keep off bugs during the growing season!
Wildlife: Bird-Foot Violets attract a host of bees and butterflies, most notably the Great Spangled Fritillary (see image below). They are also deer resistant and generally not susceptible to bugs and pests.
Bird-Foot Violets in the kitchen!
Outside of their common use as a flower, Violets can also be used as an herb! The leaves and flowers are edible and can be used as a thickening agent in soups and can be steeped to make a tea.
If you have a sweet tooth, try candying the petals!
Candied Violet petals are a sweet treat that originated in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. This unique dessert gained particular popularity in France when they became a favorite of Napolean's wife, Empress Josephine. Since then, they have remained a popular garnish for cakes and pastries, even to this day!