Common Blue Violet (Viola
Flower ½ - ¾ in., plant 3-8 in., Violet family
Surely this is the most “commonly” recognized spring
flower. Blooming from March to June in damp woods, moist meadows,
roadsides, and even lawns, the Common Blue Violet seems to be everywhere.
Its five-petaled flowers can be blue, purple, lavender, even white with
purple veins. Its leaves are smooth, dark green, and heart-shaped. There are
many similar violets, so leaves are the best identifier.
The violet has friends in the insect world. Bees
pollinate the flowers and “ant farmers” harvest and plant the seeds.
Attracted by oil on the seeds, ants carry them as far as 70 yards to their
nests. The seed shells are hard to open, so after eating the oil, the ants
leave them in their tunnels.
|Violets have been around for thousands of years. The
Greeks of Athens made them the symbol of their city. They were used as
medicines from the 16th century on. Violets can even be candied.
Napoleon loved violets so much that he was called Caporal Violette –
Corporal Violet. After his defeat at Waterloo, he grew violets in exile on
the island of St. Helena. Violets from his wife Josephine’s grave were found
in a locket he was wearing when he died.