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This year's resolve: get to know violets better.

I got a herbal Hildegard v. Bingen calendar for xmas.

January is sweet violet, Viola odorata. The text, translated, goes something like this:
"If somebody damages their lungs through being depressed by melancholy and anger, he shall boil violets in pure wine, strain through cloth, add galangal and licorice to taste, and drink the draught. It will depress the melancholy and make him glad and heal the lung."

Galangal (Galgant in German) is either Alpinia galanga or Alpinia officinarum. I expect ginger does much the same as galangal, so I'll substitute, come summer, and come pretty blue violets. Do please remind me to make this wine, it sounds intriguing.

King's says about Viola odorata: "The flowers and seeds of Viola odorata act as laxatives in doses of 3 or 4 drachms, rubbed up with sugar and water; (...) Blue violet is mucilaginous, emollient, and slightly laxative. (...) The plant should be used when fresh, as drying destroys its active properties. (...) The Viola tricolor, or pansy, may be used as a substitute. The roots of these plants are bitterish and slightly acrid, and in doses of from 8 to 10 grains are tonic; from 25 to 30 grains, purgative; and from 40 to 60 grains, emetic."
I'm not planning on digging up any violet roots, though: I don't need emetics, and violets are famed for their flowers, not for their roots.

Viola tricolor is the most abundant of our wild violets. King's says more about it: "The immoderate use of Viola tricolor is said to derange the gastro-intestinal functions, and to induce diuresis, sweating, and a pustular skin eruption. It imparts to the urine a feline odor."
Feline odor? I'll have to try to get that, but if possible without the deranged gastro-intestinal functions or hives.


I think of ginger as a direct firey-warm, galangal as more diffuse, resinous floral-warm. Though I guess Hildegard would've been using the dried versions, where there's maybe less difference. Culinarily speaking, though, ain't no comparison 'twixt the two.

My mom describes hot-water galangal infusion as "girly".

Thanks! I'll try to find some fresh galangal, then, come the time to make the wine.

Is there a difference between the two species of galangal?

galangal is an ~awesome~ cooking spice... similar to ginger, but more... peppery. It really like a number of spices all rolled into one. I cook with it quite a bit, and flat out love cooking seafood in green tea spiced liberaly with galangal & a bit of garlic powder... gadzooks, it's to die for...

As for violets, I'd have to admit that I don't use them quite as much as I'd like. They quite serviceable in the same sorts of conditions I often use mullein for; a demulcent pectoral/lymphatic.

The wine does sound intriguing, you figuring some white wine? Red would surely overpower...

Ginger i think is quite dangerous to take in hot season. Galangal is sufficient quitely.

Galangal is even hotter than ginger.