How to Forage for Wild Violets

What Are Wild Violets

Obviously enough, its important to know what wild violets are before you go foraging for them. Wild violets or otherwise known as Common Blue Violet are short perennials that bloom in late April – mid May. Many see these sweet plants as weeds and spend lots of time and money trying to rid of them, which is such a shame because these are beautiful and delicious!!! Violets are a bright purple flower, even white or yellow at times with almost a slight pansy or viola look to them. Their leaves are heart shaped with a small toothed or scalloped edge. These flowers tend to spread via rhizomes in the soil or by their black seeds they produce near the bottom of the plant (both of which are not edible). Wild violets are actually considered to have many medicinal properties!

Are Wild Violets Edible?

Yes!!! Wild Violets are indeed edible. But only the flowers and leaves are edible. The rhizomes or the roots of the plant are poisonous. You also have to be careful not to confuse the wild violet with the African violet (Which is also NOT edible)!!! Funny enough, I actually have these in my house and picture them down below. These look a little different but could potentially be confused if you aren’t careful enough. African violets have fuzzy leaves and bright yellow stigma and grow much shorter than the Wild Violet.

African Violets in a white pot on a windowsill
African Violet (NOT Edible)

How to Identify Wild Violets

Here is a picture of wild violets growing in my backyard. Again they have potato chip sized leaves that are heart shaped with a small toothed or scalloped edge. The flowers droop down and consist of five floppy bunny ear shaped petals. Two up top that stick up like a peace sign and then two on the bottom with one larger petal between them. Near the center of the flower the petals shift from bright purple to white. The white center has tiny little white hairs and sometime a light orange/brown stigma. These flowers can also be white or yellow. The white flowers have white petals that have a slight purple ombre towards the center. Yellow violets are a bright yellow with very thin and small dark brown stripes that start inside the flower that comes out halfway down the petal.

Please be careful when attempting to identify wild violets!!! If you are unsure if the plant you have found is indeed a wild violet, then discard and do more research to better identify this flower. The reason this is so so important is that there are countless kinds of toxic/poisonous plants that risking this could potentially become a life threatening situation. Again, please refer to guide books on foraging and do more research before you make the call.

A tall vase filled with purple wild violet petals.

Foraging for Wild Violets

When foraging Wild Violet petals bring a tall glass or a deep bowl to place the petals into. If its a shallow basin and a strong gust wind comes, the petals will all fly out and scatter everywhere. (Almost had that happen to me haha). If you are wanting to forage for wild violet leaves then bring a colander so that you can easily wash them once you are finished.

Wild Violets really like to grow in shaded areas with rich soil. This doesn’t mean that they can’t grow in terrible soil. They just prefer healthy well draining soil.

Wild Violets are also a short plant. Typically never growing past 9-12 inches in height. Look for the bright purple flowers emerging from a pencil lead thick, green stem. The leaves grow near the ground coming only about halfway up the total height of the plant.

holding purple wild violet flower above green grass and floral knee pad.
Foraging wild violet petals
  1. Once you have found the Wild Violet and identified that it truly is a Wild Violet, pop the flower off of the stem. I do this by taking my thumb and index finger and pinching the stem with my nails right beneath the flower head. If you don’t have long nails you can just do the same thing but gently pull the flower head away from the stem. It will pop right off.
  2. Behind the petals the base of the flower is still attached. It looks like a little green cap. Take your fingers and gently pinch off the flower base and toss it on the ground or throw it in the compost.
  3. Once the petals are removed from the base put the petals in the tall container and continue to forage more.
Foraging wild violet leaves
  1. Again, once you have found the Wild Violet and identified that it truly is a Wild Violet. The look for the heart shaped leaves. The leaves have a long slender stem that is edible but not really all that great to eat. Pick the leaves right between where the leaf and stem meet. I do this pinching off the stem with my thumb and index finger. You could also use pruning shears if that interests you, but I find that a bit cumbersome.
  2. Pick as many as your heart desires!!
  3. The I like to place the leaves into a nice big colander so its easy to bring it right in and wash them.

Before you run out the door basket it hand, be sure to check out these Wild Violet recipes like Wild Violet Simple Syrup. I hope you enjoyed learning how to forage for wild violets!

Au revoir!!

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