"Violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes."

Winter's Tale, IV. iv

"From the meadows your walks have left so sweet
That, whenever a March wind sighs,
He sets the jewel print of your feet
In violets blue as your eyes."


Who never negligently yet
Fashioned an April violet
Nor would forgive, did June disclose
Unceremoniously the rose."


The violet has for centuries been the emblem of constancy, and there is an old English sonnet in which the lines occur "Violet is for faithfulnesse Which in me shall abide."

Both in ancient and modern days, in the East and the West, the violet has always been a favourite flower. There is an old Eastern proverb: "The excellence of the violet is as the excellence of El Islam above all other religions." The French people from the earliest days have always loved violets.

In Troubadour days at Toulouse the prize awarded to the author of the best poem was a golden violet, and Eleanor of Aquitaine refers to this old custom in "Becket": "You know I won the violet at Toulouse."

From the earliest times herbalists have lauded the virtues of the flowers and leaves of violets. Pliny bestowed high praise on them, and amongst the Persians and Romans violet wine was a favourite beverage.

In Tudor days syrups, conserves and paste of violets were much recommended for delicate people, and the leaves were used in salads and pottages. It is the sweet-smelling wild violet (not the dog violet) which possesses the virtues.


Half a pint of boiling water poured on a handful of the fresh or dried leaves.

VIOLET LEAVES, at the entrance of spring fried brownish and eaten with Orange or Lemon Juice and Sugar is one of the most agreeable of all the herbaceous dishes.

John Evelyn, Acetaria, 1699.


First gather a great quantity of violet flowers and pick them clean from the stalkes and set them on the fire and put to them so much rose-water as you think good. Then let them boil all together untill the colour be forth of them. Then take them off the fire and strain them through a fine cloth, then put so much suger to them as you thinke good, then set it againe to the fire until it be somewhat thick and put it into a violet glasse.

The Good Housewife's Jewell, 1585.


The Honey of Violets is made like the honey of Roses, making three infusions, and the first infusion being strained, boyle as much honey with it, and at the last scumme it.

The Charitable Physitian, by Philbert Guibert, Physitian Regent in Paris, 1639.

Take the leaves of blew Violets separated from their stalks and greens, beat them very well in a stone Mortar, with twice their weight of sugar, and reserve them for your use in a glass vessel.

The Queen's Closet Opened, by W. M., Cook to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1655,


Wet double refin'd Sugar, and boil it, till it is almost come to Sugar again; then put into it Juice of Violets; put in Juice of Lemons, this will make them look red; if you put in Juice and Water it will make them look green. If you will have them all blue, put in the Juice of Violets without the Lemon.

From The Receipt Book of John Middleton, 1734.


Steep violet flowers in lemon juice till the colour is deep enough. Add sugar and boil to candy height and cut into cakes before it is quite cold.


Macerate two pounds of fresh violets in five pints of distilled water for twenty-four hours. Strain the liquor through a cloth, and add double refined sugar and boil to a syrup.


Infuse violet flowers in ordinary vinegar.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License