An avid student of natural health since 1987, Ann is a Missouri native, health coach, triathlete, and collector of rocks and children. ann.hines@gmail.com
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with eglantine.
--Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare
Growing up near Hutton Valley, I eagerly looked forward to Saturday mornings, stuffing an oatmeal cream pie in the pocket of my purple hoodie, and heading out to explore the woods before anyone else woke. The spring hillside was like a fairy garden, sunbeams shining through the redbud, service berry, and wild plum blooming overhead, and the ground carpeted with wild violets, rue anemones, and baby's breath beneath my feet. As an adult some four decades later, I still feel the same way.
The wild violets are still blooming this week, and before they're gone, I want to tell you how magical they are! The blossoms come in lavender, rich purple, white with purple streaks, and even yellow. The birds-foot violet has two deep violet and three lavender petals. I have often pressed them in old phone books to make greeting cards. This week we served oatmeal with chopped apples, raisins and walnuts, decorated with a cheerful variety of violets decorating the bowl. The heart-shaped leaves can be eaten as a salad, cooked as a green, or made into a tea. 
The demulcent properties of violets make them a centuries-old favorite for pulmonary concerns such as dry coughs. The leaves, and to a lesser extent, the flowers, contain vitamins A and C, which were discussed in last week's article on red bud blossoms. You'll notice that these nutrients are commonly found in wild foods. Violet leaves also contain rutin, an important bioflavonoid, which works in concert with vitamin C and is an antioxidant known particularly for strengthening capillary walls, supporting the cardiovascular system, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Our Creator provided violets with a magical, secret super power: they produce underground flowers, which remain colorless due to lack of sunlight, yet these flowers produce seed, even without pollinators.
As if the beauty and nutrition of violets and their secret underground flowers weren't magical enough, there's more! How about an edible science experiment you can do at home with your kids? (Please DO try this at home!) You can make a magical, color-changing Wild Violet Lemonade. Gather about a pint of the purple blossoms. Save back the most perfect specimens and lay one or two in each pocket of your ice cube tray to make pretty floral ice cubes. Cover the blossoms with hot water and let them set for a couple of hours. You will get a blue or green colored liquid. Then, as your friends or children watch eagerly, add the fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and (drumroll please...) Voila! The blue/green color will turn pink! 
As you venture out to pick violets, note the wild strawberries, tall phlox, and wild onions. They like to grow together in the edges of the fields. Watch out for poison ivy, also budding out, as my forearms can attest. Happy hunting! And let me know what you do with your magical violets this week!

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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