Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea) is a common early spring and summer flower that can be found throughout the Grand Rapids and greater Michigan areas. The flowers and leaves are edible and can be used in a variety of different ways.
Violets can be found in cultivated areas, lawns, parks, open areas in the woods, and in meadows. The plant is perennial and will keep coming back in the same general area each year.
Blue Violet is easily identifiable by its familiar blue flowers. The flowers—which tend to be about an inch across—are five-petaled. The three lower petals are boldly veined. The centers are white.
The broad leaves are odorless and nearly heart-shaped. The flowers and leaves grow on separate stems.
To harvest Blue Violet, just pull off the individual flowers and collect them. They can be used to make violet syrup (imparting a beautiful blue/purple color), in salads, or even candied. The flowers have a somewhat surprising peppery aftertaste. The greens can also be used to thicken soups or they can be dried and cut for tea. The greens can function as a spinach substitute as well and can be sautéed or steamed.