Several cultivars have been selected for garden use, of which V. odorata ‘Wellsiana’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.[3][4]

The sweet scent of this flower has proved popular, particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes.[5] The French are also known for their violet syrup, most commonly made from an extract of violets. In the United States, this French violet syrup is used to make violet scones and marshmallows. The scent of violet flowers is distinctive with only a few other flowers having a remotely similar odor. References to violets and the desirable nature of the fragrance go back to classical sources such as Pliny and Horace when the name ‘Ion’ was in use to describe this flower from which the name of the distinctive chemical constituents of the flower, the ionones – is derived. In 1923, Poucher wrote that the flowers were widely cultivated both in Europe and the East for their fragrance, with both the flowers and leaves being separately collected and extracted for fragrance, and flowers also collected for use in confectionery galenical syrup [6] and in the production of medicine.

There is some doubt as to whether the true extract of the violet flower is still used commercially in perfumes.[7] It certainly was in the early 20th century,[6] but by the time Steffen Arctander was writing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, production had “almost disappeared”.[5] Violet leaf absolute, however, remains widely used in modern perfumery.[8][9]

The leaves are edible.[10] Real violet flower extract is available for culinary uses, especially in European countries, but it is expensive.

Herbal medicine

In herbal medicineV. odorata has been used for a variety of respiratory ailments,[11] insomnia,[citation needed] and skin disorders.[12][13][14] However, there is insufficient evidence to support its effectiveness for these uses.[13]

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