Blue Vervain Cultivation: Tips On Growing Blue Vervain Plants

The name “Vernia” comes from the Latin word “verbum”, which means flower or fruit. Verna is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Verbenaceae (Verbs) and are native to Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa and parts of South America. They include many species with different forms such as perennial herbs, shrubs and trees.

The most well known species of Verna is the common violets (Viola chiloensis), which are native to the Mediterranean region. These flowers have long been used medicinally and traditionally in perfumes, incense, candles and other products. Other popular uses include flavoring wine, chocolate and even foodstuffs like breads. The leaves of the common violets are used in traditional Chinese medicine for coughs, colds and sore throats.

In addition to their medicinal properties, the leaves of common violets are also edible. They are commonly eaten fresh in salads, added to soups and stews or cooked into pies. The flowers of the common violets can be dried and made into a tea. A few varieties of the plant have poisonous seeds that may cause severe allergic reactions if ingested.

Gathering

The leaves, flowers and roots of the common violets can be used fresh or dried. All parts of the plant contain high quantities of vitamins A, C and niacin. The flowers and leaves can also be cooked as a vegetable and have a nutty flavor.

Leaves: The leaves can either be used fresh or dried after picking. They can also be stripped from the stems and either eaten raw or cooked.

Flowers: The flowers can be used to make a fragrant tea. They should be dried quickly and stored in an airtight container until ready for use.

Roots: A purple dye can be made from the roots.

The poultice of crushed leaves can be placed on insect bites to help sooth the pain and swelling. A leaf tea can be used as a mouthwash to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Habitat

The common violets are native to the United States, but they are also found in many parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. In Australia, there is one particular species known as “Australian Blue Vervain” (Vernonia photosynthesis). This species is commonly used medicinally by the local population.

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Common violets are found in many types of climate and soil conditions. They thrive best in locations with full sun and slightly damp soil. They can be grown in pots or directly in to the ground.

History

The common violets have been used medicinally for centuries. Dioscorides, a Greek physician, wrote about the medicinal uses of common violets in the year 70 A.D in his book “Materia Medica”.

In 1759, an English botanist by the name of William Withering published a book called “A Botanical Dictionary.” In this book he described the uses of over 600 plants, including the common violets. He wrote that the flowers of the common violets could be used to make a soothing tea. Over time, more research was done and they were found to have many other uses as well.

Common violet plants have also been used in herbal crafts such as soap, perfume, dye and more. They can be used to make a sweet smelling purple dye for wool. In the 18th century they were used to make a lavender scented perfume.

Common Violet Uses

The leaves, flowers and roots of common violets can all be used in some way. The different parts of the plant contain many vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are considered beneficial for the body and can be ingested or applied topically. The flowers and leaves can also be eaten as a nutritious leaf vegetable.

Edible Uses

The leaves, flowers and roots can all be eaten. The leaves and flowers can either be dried for storage or cooked fresh. They can be eaten on their own as a green vegetable. They can also be added to salads or cooked in soups, stews and other dishes.

The roots can be eaten either raw or cooked. They have a nutty taste.

The flowers can be infused in to a honey sweetened tea.

The leaves and flowers can be crushed and made into a poultice and applied to the skin to help sooth irritation and insect bites. It can also be applied to cuts to help stop bleeding and speed up the healing process.

Medicinal Uses

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The flowers, leaves and roots all have unique healing properties.

The leaves and flowers can be infused in hot water and the liquid consumed. Do not over consume this liquid as it can cause diarrohea. The liquid is very good for your digestive track and helps sooth any aches or pains in the abdomen.

The flowers and leaves can be crushed up and applied directly to the skin to help reduce swelling and bruising caused by injury. It is especially effective on older injuries.

Root

The roots of the common violet are used to heal wounds and stop bleeding. They also can help relieve the pain caused by hemorrhoids.

Other Uses

The purple and blue flowers of the common violet plant can be used as a dye. They can be used to dye wool, cotton and other natural fibres a light shade of purple or blue.

The crushed up root has been known to be smoked to help relieve pain.

Warnings

When ingested in large quantities the flowers can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The leaves and flowers should not be used on open wounds, they will cause the wound to heal but closure of the wound will be slower than normal.

Side Effects

The flowers and leaves applied directly to the skin can cause irritation.

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The roots can result in a mild stomach ache to begin with if you eat to much of it. If you eat to much over a long period of time it can lead to uncontrollable diarrhea.

The liquid used for the leaves and flowers can cause excessive vomiting if over consumed. It can also cause dehydration if consumed to quickly.

Growing Common Violets

Common violets grow best an entrances to buildings or in containers on windowsills or porches.

It is important to note that common violets are a protected species in many countries and cannot be collected from the wild. They must be purchased or grown from violet seeds.

Violet seeds can be germinated in the open ground or in containers. If growing outdoors plant the seeds about 1 inch (2.5cm) deep in loose soil. Transplant to a larger container if necessary.

Common violets prefer to grow in damp soil so water often to keep the soil moist. If you are growing them indoors make sure that the soil does not dry out completely or the seedlings will die.

Once the violet plant reaches about 4 inches (10cm) high you can transplant it outside. You must wait until all risk of frost has past and the soil has warmed up for transplanting outdoor.

Common violets grow best in shady areas or partially shaded areas. They will die in areas where they are get constant direct sunlight. The best place to plant your violets is entrances to buildings where they will get a lot of foot traffic.

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Harvesting

Common violets are ready to be harvested when the flowers bloom. Cut the stems down to about 6 inches (15cm) high and they will regrow quickly. You can harvest all of the violet leaves and flowers once a good size of harvest is reached.

Fertilizer

Common violets don’t require much fertilizer or maintenance other than cutting down the plants to allow for regrowth.

You can fertilize violets 2 to 3 times a year using general house plant fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer. (NPK 5-5-5)

Seeds

Violet seeds are not often sold by themselves since the plants spread fairly quickly and are easy to grow. You can collect the seeds when you harvest the flowers to allow for new plants to grow.

Sources & references used in this article:

Coltsfoot as a potential cause of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in a patient also consuming kava and blue vervain by JE Freshour, B Odle, S Rikhye… – Journal of dietary …, 2012 – Taylor & Francis

America’s Anniversary Garden. Native Plants by J Scoll – Natural Resources & Environment, 2015 – JSTOR

Users Guide to Description, Propagation and Establishment of Wetland Plant Species and Grasses for Riparian Areas in the Intermountain West by APG Theme

Plant Life Inventory List by L DuBois, JG Latimer, BL Appleton, D Close – 2009 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu

Riparian planting zones in the intermountain west by JC Hoag, SK Wyman, G Bentrup… – WY-5. Aberdeen …, 2001 – nrcs.usda.gov

Host Plants of the Tarnished Plant Bug, Lygus lineolaris (Heteroptera: Miridae) by C Cornelius, E Books, PE Books, T Flowers… – library.illinoisstate.edu

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