So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day..."
Larry at Growing Up has suggested we bloggers could participate in a meme about our State, National or Provincial Flower. And since it was too wet and cold to go out and play, I did some research on Illinois's State Flower. I'll admit, I did not know. However, I do now and I will try to share with you what I have learned.
The State flower of Illinois is the Common Wood Violet, violaceae family. In 1907, Mrs. James Fessler launched a campaign to name a state flower and a state tree. The vote was put to school age children with the violet being one of three choices. The goldenrod and the wild rose were the other 2 choices. The violet won by more than 4,000 votes. And so, in 1908 by a bill sponsored by Senator Jackson the violet became our official flower.
The common wood violet is found in a wide variety of habitats including forests, roadsides, meadows, and lawns. It flowers from March thru June, although I have not seen any this year yet. The flowers have five petals and rise up an slender stalks. The leaves are heart-shaped, often with a saw-toothed edge. Color can range from deep purple to almost white and some are purple with a white throat.
The common violet is a perennial that sends out rhizomes from which new growth emerges. But there are also special flowers near the ground that do not open, but produce seeds. It prefers a slightly acid soil... hence the forest growth.
I have heard of candied violets which are real violets dipped in sugar or syrup. What I didn't know is that all parts except the roots are edible. Violets are high in vitamin A and C, and can be eaten raw in a salad or as cooked greens early in the spring. They even make jelly out of them as well as teas. They contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin. They are ground up and used in some herbal medicines for clearing the lungs and stopping coughs. It has been used to lessen boils, help with sleeping, relieve pain from swollen joints, and clear toxins from the blood. That is an awful lot for one little plant to do! I should say here that these claims have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.
So now, I have learned something new about my state and about the common wood violet, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about them. I think I will enjoy them even more now when I see them blooming in my lawn, along the roads and in with my garden flowers.