The wood violet is the state flower of Wisconsin. The purple violet is the state flower of Illinois. The state flower of New Jersey is the violet.
Although the name suggests a bluish purple color violets are also found to be white, pink, yellow, and even one cream in color. Some are bi-colored.
Wild violets are considered to be weeds in North American lawns by many people but not the writer's mother. She loved them. The writer maintained her house and lawn for several years but was not allowed to intentionally remove or spray the yard's violets. He had to dispose of poke weed by stealth.
There are about 500 species of violet around the world. Many tiny animals munch on them for snacks, and butterfly and moth larvae enjoy them.
The Latin word for the flower is Viola. The Viola odorata is a source for scent in the perfume industry, as the binomial name would imply.
If you have headaches try the old Greek remedy of weaving a wreath of violets and place it on the head as a crown. Violets also were used to treat vertigo. Love potions were made from violets since this flower symbolized love and fertility.
Ancient Greeks had nurseries in Attica, a historical region that included Athens, where they grew violets. When the violets were harvested they were used to make wine and for herbal remedies. Sweetening food was another benefit.
In early America violets were used by many in the making of butter, jellies and for flavoring vinegar. As an embellishment for desserts and drinks violets could not be beaten.
The so-called African violet is not a true violet. This flower had a very important part in the film, Armastad. Slaves on a slave ship by this name had broken free and had taken control of the ship that was to drop them off as slaves in Cuba. Sengbe Pien, who was the first to break free, tried to forced the crew of the ship to take them back to Africa. the crew ignored the Africans and sailed off New York. They were caught and arrested. The New England slavers claimed that they had been picked up in the Caribbean Islands. That would make it legal to have them on the ship. Former Pres. John Quincy Adams questioned this.
Adams had Senge Pien, who spoke no English, of course, brought into his office. The slave was drawn to Adam's desk for he saw an African violet under a glass dome. The former president saw the emotions in the slave's eyes and very being and was convinced that he was African, for the flower reminded him of home the New England slavers had stolen him from.
Associate Justice Joseph Story, of the U. S. Supreme Court, read the majority opinion freeing the slaves. His part in the film was played by the soon to be retired Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Harry Blackmun of Minnesota. As a side note Blackmun's aid, a daughter, and grandchild were also in the film in the court scene. The writer and his wife were invited to a special showing of the film with the Blackmuns and other dignitaries. The writer is not a dignitary.
Without Adams and without the flower the slaves would have remain slaves. A flower "saved the day!" Later these Africans could choose to remain in America or be returned to Africa. Many choose to return home.
In Tennyson's poem, Aylmer's Field, we find the following line referring to Nero's grave: "Pity, the violet on the tyrant's grave."
The ancient Greeks told that violets sprang from the blood of Ajax, the most powerful and true hero of the Trojan war, when, angry at losing a competition to the eloquent Odysseus, fell upon his own sword and died; his blood spilt. And up sprang the violets--they always do.
There are many mentions of the sweet, lovely violet in literature. One of many examples is:
"A violet by a mossy stone half hidden from the eye!
Fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky."