Roses are red, violets are … well, more of a mauve colour really, although with over 200 species of violet there’s bound to be a blue one. When it comes to aromatherapy however, violets are most associated with green.
It is sometime since I have used Violet Leaf Oil, with its dazzling emerald green colour. I am waiting on a bottle to arrive. However, I seem to remember an exceptionally delicate aroma, almost cucumber like with a faint sweetness.
Like many delicate plants, extracting the oil can be a labour intensive operation with the end result commanding a hefty fee. Having studied their dainty petals and leaves, harvesting must be a very tricky affair. As with many other precious oils there is a high demand for Violet extract from the perfume industry. Much of the commercial growing in Europe is in France and Italy. Dawlish in Devon was an important centre for the cultivation of violets in 1916. A special train ran from Cornwall to London daily transporting fresh violet flowers to Covent Garden Market. There was a flourishing trade in the area up until the late 1930s, before the land was needed to grow food during the war.
Both the leaf and the flower have a long tradition of use in herbal medicine. Violet syrup and ointments were well known and widely used. It is listed in the British herbal pharmaceopoeia.
The main properties are expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and laxative. It comes up in almost all current aromatherapy textbooks as beneficial for tricky skin conditions – acne, eczema, thread veins, skin eruptions and sensitive skin. The smell would indicate its gentle action.
Another extremely gentle and pleasant oil I have recently fallen for is Mimosa (Acacia Dealbata or Silver Wattle). Having virtually swooned over the blossom and aroma this spring in Italy, I procured a bottle on my return. It possesses extremely warm and floral notes and is employed in high-end perfumery.
There are over 1,000 species, and I have now discovered it is erroneously known as Mimosa. (Possibly because Acacia and Mimosa share the same subfamily, Mimosoidea). Botany can get extremely complicated. Florists certainly seem to call the flowers from the Acacia Dealbata, ‘Mimosa’. You may have heard of Cassie oil, it is extracted from another member of the Acacia and has very similar properties.
In aromatherapy, the oil is recommended for depression, nervous exhaustion, stress-related conditions and dry, sensitive skin. It feels particularly lovely when applied to the skin in a carrier oil. One author suggests that it may be of particular use to very sensitive people in general. Also it is reported to be very helpful when treating anxiety, especially if you have been using Neroli oil without results, give this a try.
The aroma (for me) reflects all of these attributes. I think it would make a lovely body spray, I feel the aroma would be wasted in a burner, it is pricey – mind you.
Ellen Cox is a qualified professional aromatherapist and a member of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. She currently practices aromatherapy two days a month in St Brendan’s Retirement Village in Mulranny.he has worked with Atlantic Aromatics for 15 years.