Heartsease

viola_tricolor_heartease
By Kjetil Lenes (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Viola tricolor-Heartsease

Family: Violaceae

Other names: Wild Pansy,Sweet Violet, Blue Violet, Wild Violet

Habitat: Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Corsica, W. Asia, Siberia, Caucasus. A common British wild and garden plant. Cultivated and waste ground, short grassland etc, mainly on acid and neutral soils.

Heartsease has a long history of use as a medicinal herb and was at one time in high repute as a treatment for epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and a wide range of other complaints. In modern herbalism it is seen as a purifying herb and is taken internally in the treatment of skin complaints such as eczema. The herb is anodyne, antiasthmatic, anti-inflammatory, cardiac, demulcent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative and vulnerary. Being expectorant, it is used in the treatment of various chest complaints such as bronchitis and whooping cough, whilst its diuretic action makes it useful for treating rheumatism, cystitis and difficulty in passing urine. It is also used as an ointment for treating eczema and other skin complaints and is also useful in cases of rheumatism, bed-wetting etc.  The root is emetic. A homeopathic remedy is made from the entire plant. It is used in the treatment of cutaneous eruptions.

heartease,viola_tricolor
I, Jörg Hempel [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Heartsease:

Viola tricolor is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to September, and the seeds ripen from Jun to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation of Heartsease:

Prefers a cool moist well-drained humus-rich soil in partial or dappled shade and protection from scorching winds. Tolerates sandstone and limestone soils but becomes chlorotic if the pH is too high. Prefers a pH between 6 and 6.5. A very variable species. It is normally an annual plant, but it is sometimes a short-lived perennial. A good bee plant[. Grows well with rye but dislikes growing with wheat. All members of this genus have more or less edible leaves and flower buds, though those species with yellow flowers can cause diarrhoea if eaten in large quantities.

Propagation of Heartsease:

Seed – best sown in the autumn in a cold frame. Division in the autumn or just after flowering. The plant is a short-lived perennial and division is not that worthwhile.

Collection:

The plant is harvested from June to August and dried for later use.

Culinary uses of Heartsease:

Edible Parts: Flowers, Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Young leaves and flower buds – raw or cooked. When added to soup they thicken it in much the same way as okra. A tea can be made from the leaves. The small attractive Heartsease Flowers are added to salads or used as a garnish

Viola_Tricolor_HearteaseMedicinal uses of Heartsease:

Actions: Expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory.

Part Used: Herb.

Indications: Traditionally used for bronchitis and rheumatism, Heartsease is especially valued remedy for treating skin disease. Used both internally and topically it is good for eczema, psoriasis and acne. It is also helpful in cases of cradle-cap in babies. The herb is employed in treating frequent and painful urination in conditions such as cystitis. Both the salicylates and the rutin contained in the plant are anti-inflammatory, a partial explanation of the traditional use herbalist’s found for Heartsease, treating and arthritis. The saponins in the plant account for its expectorant action while its mucilage content soothes the chest. Heartsease is used to treat a range of respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and whooping cough. Due to the high concentration of rutin in the flowers, this herb may be employed to prevent bruising and broken capillaries, to check the build up of fluid in the tissues and to reduce atherosclerosis and in so doing help reduce blood pressure. Heartsease is mildly laxative.

Preparations & Dosage:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: 1-2 ml of the tincture 3 times a day.

Other uses of Heartsease:

Dye,  Litmus.

Yellow, green and blue-green dyes are obtained from the flowers. The leaves can be used in place of litmus in testing for acids and alkalis.

heartease_fairyEsoteric uses of Heartsease:

Calms the nerves, draws prophetic dreams and visions, stimulates creativity, and promotes peace & tranquility. Violet leaf provides protection from all evil. Violet crowns are said to cure headaches and bring sleep. Carry or give to newly married couples or new baby & mother to bring luck to the bearer. Keep a spray of violets on the altar to enhance night magick. Wear the leaves in a green sachet to help heal wounds and prevent evil spirits from making the wounds worse.

The Chemistry:

Constituents:

  • Flavonoids, including violanthin, rutin, violaquercitrin.
  • Methylsalicylate
  • Miscellaneous; mucilage gums, resin, saponin.