Roses are red, violets are…well… purple! Although they can also be white with delicately thin purple stripes on their petals. Wild violets, also called Common Blue Violets, are one of the first flowers of spring and one of the few that many children can identify. The heart shaped leaves of the violet make it easy to find even when they are not flowering. They grow in shady, moist areas in most of the United States and are quite a nutritious, healing treat for our bodies.
Violet’s rich color in the spring, draws our attention downwards, towards the earth. Children, being much closer to the earth, are naturally attracted to these flowers. I have watched countless children use violets to make “magic flower medicine” during their play. How delighted they are when they learn that they can pick the blossoms and eat them!
Wild violet blossoms and leaves are full of vitamin C and assist the liver in producing vitamin A. Like the spring rain, violet moistens and cools, acting as a gentle laxative for children. Dry throats are soothed with violet tea and the pain of boils and burns is relieved with a poultice made from the leaves.
Wild Violet Syrup Recipe
On a dry, spring day, bring the children in your lives to an area where wild violets are flourishing. Guide them to pick the flowers gently and gather them in a basket. Make certain that the land is chemical free and far from a road. Don’t worry about picking too much as the purple blossoms of the violet are not it’s reproductive part. You can pick as many blossoms as you like, and it does not hurt the plant at all; it just grows more blossoms! I try to pick enough to fill a pint sized Mason jar.
When home, fill a glass jar with the violets. If you have any left over, throw them in a salad! Cover the blossoms with boiling water and let sit overnight to infuse. Strain the violets the next day and you will have a pretty, deep blue liquid. To each cup of the violet extract, let a child add ½ of the juice of a lemon and watch the magic! The blue water turns bright pink!!! Add 2 cups of organic sugar (per cup of extract) and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and keep simmering until it is thickened (about 10 minutes). Pour into a glass jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator.
Now that you have this delightful syrup recipe, you are going to need something to drizzle it on. What better food to place under syrup than pancakes!? Dandelion pancakes, that is! Dandelions bloom all summer, but are most abundant during spring.
Dandelions have been my favorite flower since I was a child. They are like small sunshines gracing the green grass with happiness. They are also one of the first flowers of spring that children are allowed to pick with abandon. The bright yellow flowers are usually used to paint their faces and arms or made into crowns fit for a fairy queen! These amazing blossoms are also a wonderful source of nutrition.
All parts of dandelions are edible. The leaves contain iron, calcium, vitamin C as absorbic acid, vitamin K, and the vitamin B complex. The blossoms in tea have been known to help with headaches, stomachaches, and menstrual cramps. Applied to the chests of young girls with developing breasts, dandelion compresses can help relieve the soreness. Herbalists also use all parts of the dandelion to help support those with depression.
Dandelion Pancake Recipe
Harvest a full jar of flowers after the morning dew has dried. Share with the children that bees love dandelions, too! Be sure that when harvesting you leave a few for them, especially in early spring when there aren’t many other types of blossoms available.
Ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat flour, 3 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp sea salt , ¾ tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp powdered flax seed, 3 Tbsp water, ¾ cup soy milk , 2 Tbsp applesauce, 1 tsp vanilla extract, dandelion blossoms
Pull the dandelion blossoms out of the green base of the flower so that there are many little petals. Mix together all dry ingredients first, then add all of the wet ingredients. Blend together until smooth. Pour batter onto a hot griddle and sprinkle with extra flower petals. Cook until tops are bubbling and then flip. You can sprinkle this side with petals if you wish, too. Cook until golden brown.
You can always throw dandelion petals into ANY pancake recipe, as well as muffin and cookie batter!
Enjoy foraging for wild foods with the young ones in your life! You will be giving them quite a gift as they connect with the plants that grow on their earth in such a practical way.