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Heartsease

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  • Botanical: Viola tricolor
  • Family: Viola tricolor
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Heartsease

Botanical

Viola tricolor

Family

Viola tricolor

Known as

heartsease, heart's ease, heart's delight, tickle my fancy, Jack jump up and kiss me, come and cuddle me, three faces in a hood, love in idleness, Wildes Stiefmütterchen, Stiefmütterchen, Ackerveilchen, Muttergottesschuh, Mädchenaugen, Gedenkemein

Old Use

medical, culinary, industry

Collection Times

June to August

Parts Used

flowers, leaves

Aroma

fruity, herbaceius

Medicinal

asthma, arthritis, bronchitis, bronchitis, diarrhea, digestion, dropsy, eczema, epilepsy, laxative, joint pain, kidney weakness, rheumatism

Heart & Circulation

dropsy (edema), edema

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, rheumatism

Mind & Nerves

epilepsy

Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis, cough

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, flatulence, gastrointestinal, laxative, indigestion

Skin & Hair

eczema

Properties

antiseptic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, anti inflammatory, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant

Description

The Heartsease is as variable as any of the other members of the genus, but whatever modifications of form it may present, it may always be readily distinguished from the other Violets by the general form of its foliage, which is much more cut up than in any of the other species and by the very large leafy stipules at the base of the true leaves. The stem, too, branches more than is commonly found in the other members of the genus. Besides the free branching of the stem, which is mostly 4 to 8 inches in height, it is generally very angular. The leaves are deeply cut into rounded lobes, the terminal one being considerably the largest. In the other species of Viola the foliage is ordinarily very simple in outline, heartshaped, or kidney-shaped, having its edge finely toothed. The flowers (1/4 to 1 1/4 inch across) vary a great deal in colour and size, but are either purple, yellow or white, and most commonly there is a combination of all these colours in each blossom. The upper petals are generally most showy in colour and purple in tint, while the lowest and broadest petal is usually a more or less deep tint of yellow. The base of the lowest petal is elongated into a spur, as in the Violet. The flowers are in due course succeeded by the little capsules of seeds, which when ripe, open by three valves. Though a near relative of the Violet, it does not produce any of the curious bud-like flowers - cleistogamous flowers - characteristic of the Violet, as its ordinary showy flowers manage to come to fruition so that there is no necessity for any others. Darwin found that the humble bee was the commonest insect visitor of the Heartsease, though the moth Pluvia visited it largely - another observer mentions Thrips small wingless insects - as frequent visitors to the flowers. Darwin considered that the cultivated Pansy rarely set seed if there were no insect visitors, but that the little Field Pansy can certainly fertilize itself if necessary. The flower protects itself from rain and dew by drooping its head both at night and in wet weather, and thus the back of the flower and not its face receives the moisture.

Properties & Uses

Heartsease has a long history of herbal use and was at one time in high repute as a treatment for epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and a wide range of other complaints. In modern herbalism it is seen as a purifying herb and is taken internally in the treatment of skin complaints such as eczema. The herb is anodyne, antiasthmatic, anti-inflammatory, cardiac, demulcent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative and vulnerary. Being expectorant, it is used in the treatment of various chest complaints such as bronchitis and whooping cough, whilst its diuretic action makes it useful for treating rheumatism, cystitis and difficulty in passing urine. It is also used as an ointment for treating eczema and other skin complaints and is also useful in cases of rheumatism, bed-wetting etc. The plant is harvested from June to August and dried for later use. The root is emetic. A homeopathic remedy is made from the entire plant. It is used in the treatment of cutaneous eruptions.

Other Uses

Yellow, green and blue-green dyes are obtained from the flowers. The leaves can be used in place of litmus in testing for acids and alkalis.

Young leaves and flower buds - raw or cooked. When added to soup they thicken it in much the same way as okra. A tea can be made from the leaves. The small attractive flowers are added to salads or used as a garnish.

Cautions

none known

Distribution

Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Corsica, W. Asia, Siberia, Caucasus.

Constituents

The herb contains an active chemical principle, Violine (a substance similar to Emetin, having an emeto-cathartic action), mucilage, resin, sugar, salicylic acid and a bitter principle. When bruised, the plant, and especially the root, smells like peach kernels or prussic acid. The seeds are considered to have the same therapeutic activity as the leaves and flowers.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.