poetry and prose about place

Purple Violet (Viola cucullata Ait.)

with 11 comments

The Purple Violet is the floral symbol of my life.  It is the official flower of the province where I live.  It is one of the many species in my lawn, and the theme for my guest room.  Every card my Mom and Dad ever sent to me has an image of violets.

Purple Violets are loved by many people.  In New Brunswick, they were adopted as the Provincial Flower in 1936, at the request of the provincial Women’s Institute.  The violet is also the State flower of Illinois, adopted in 1907 by schoolchildren in the State.

The Purple Violet ((Viola cucullata Ait.) is also known as the Hooded Blue Violet, the Marsh Blue Violet, the Long-stemmed Marsh Violet, and, in French, violette cucullée or violette dressée.  The Latin species name means ‘hooded’ from the inrolled young leaves.

The Purple Violet is a low-growing perennial preferring wetlands, or low wet areas in mixed or coniferous woods.

The leaves are simple, with a long stalk.  They are often heart-shaped, with rounded teeth.

The Purple Violet blooms in May.  The flower is held on a long peduncle (stalk) above a basal rosette of leaves. The flower is dark blue, purple or occasionally white, with five petals darkly veined towards the center.  The lower petal is short and spurred, and the two lateral petals are bearded.  Bearded petals have clusters of tiny thick hairs, rounded at the tip.

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, used as a thickener in soup, or to make a tea.  The flowers can be added to a salad or used for edible decoration.  My salad is made with Purple Violet leaves, Dandelion greens, chives from our garden and my own sprouts.  I added three flowers for their delicate taste and decoration.  Always be sure of your identification before you eat anything from the wild!

Although I do not advocate the wanton dismemberment of flowers, the violet holds a charming secret for children of all ages.  If you gently pull down the ‘upper’ two petals from the flower, you can see a little lady with a white head and orange gown, sitting against the backdrop of her purple throne.

Purple Violet holds a royal lady… in this flower, you can barely glimpse the lady against her throne. She is upside down. You can see her white head and the top of the skirt of her orange gown.



Marshland Rule

                Viola cucullata Ait.


within the perilous

limits of the rimless marsh,

disguised in woodland green,

spurred by deep viola speak

and crowds of envious hearts,

the hooded ranger guards

the tiny queen, long stemmed

tenderness, slenderness hid

by the folds of her orange gown,

seated against her purple throne,

flanked by wise men


eager to advise




1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
©  Jane Tims   2012

11 Responses

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  1. Hi Jane, I am also from NB but living on Vancouver Island for the last 25 years. I was searching google for the reason why my NB violets have bloomed with a white flower this year when I found you and I am very happy I did it is like taking a trip home with wonderful poetry. I will come back often but for now I must continue my search to turn my violets purple again. Heather


    Heather MacLean

    May 24, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    • Hi. Glad you found my site. As for your violets, it sounds like you have some transplants from NB. If they are Purple Violet (Viola cucullata) my Flora says they are occasionally white. I suggest contacting the botany department at the University. Have fun with your mystery. Jane


      jane tims

      May 25, 2012 at 6:28 am

  2. I never knew that about the royal lady on her purple throne! How wonderful. I can’t wait to show her to my granddaughters. Thank you for teaching me something new today. 🙂



    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    • Hi. I think you can find the royal lady in almost any species of Violet. Have fun! Jane


      jane tims

      May 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  3. I never noticed the little lady on her purple throne! Did you discover her yourself or did someone tell you about if first? Your poem is delightful and the violet salad looks scrumptious!


    Barbara Rodgers

    May 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

    • Hi. My Mom used to show us the ‘little lady’ in the violet out west in Alberta at Elkwater Lake where we had our cabin. There were wild violets growing everywhere in the woods, and I always loved to see this touch of royalty. My Mom would have learned this during her childhood in Nova Scotia. Jane


      jane tims

      May 20, 2012 at 11:37 am

      • What a lovely memory – it’s no wonder the violet is the floral symbol of your life!


        Barbara Rodgers

        May 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  4. Excellent poem Jane. I like how you weaved this into a small story. Great stuff. 🙂



    May 19, 2012 at 7:43 am

    • Hi Denis. I have been watching Once Upon a Time on TV… it inspires a re-visit of the fairy-tale world! Jane


      jane tims

      May 19, 2012 at 7:45 am

  5. Oh My Golly Jane.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are a “wealth” of information.! Do you know just how many times you have taken me out to “taste”,,”gather”,,or “look for” ,,or ,,,”at”.? Keep it coming my friend,,,,When you have Grandchildren,,,you will be the best gift your Grandchildren will ever have. The Royal Lady.???? Wow,,I gotta go find me a violet.! Lovely poems Jane,,Have a beautiful long weekend with those you love.! I will be back on Monday.! patsi.



    May 18, 2012 at 9:03 am

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