MadSci Network: Botany

Re: I'm looking for nutritional info on 'viola cae' and 'viola odorata' violets

Area: Botany
Posted By: Eric Biddinger, Grad Student, Horticulture, Penn State University
Date: Tue Oct 28 15:35:45 1997
Area of science: Botany
ID: 875725735.Bt


This is a difficult question to answer, but I will give it a try.

The first point is identifying the plants you have mentioned. Viola odorata also goes by the common names sweet violet, garden violet, florist's violet, and English violet. The other name you mention, as far as I can tell, does not exist. It appears to be a contortion of the family name for violets: Violaceae (pronounced vi-ol-A-C-E).

I was not able to find a complete list of chemicals contained in a violet. Experience with other herbs would lead me to guess that the list would consist of over 200 different compounds, most of which have not be identified. However, I did find some information.

You were correct in saying that violets have high amounts of vitamins A and C. In fact, the reference I found claimed that the content is higher in vitamin C than any other domestic green vegetable.

Two chemicals found in violet are salicylic acid and violine. Salicylic acid is more commonly known as asprin. This would explain why violet has been used as a cure for headaches since 900 A.D. Violine is a strong alkaloid which is effective as a mild laxative, emetic (substance which causes vomiting), and decongestant.

I am not sure of the concentration of these compounds in violet. My suggestion is simply to limit the consumption of violet by your pets. It might make a nice treat. As your vet has probably told you, a balanced diet is still essential for the health of your pet.

If you would like to follow up further, feel free to e-amil me!

Eric J. Biddinger
Graduate Student - Horticulture
Penn State University

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