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(Violet family)


900 species in 22 genera are cosmopolitan.

[Summary yet to be added]

Viola L.

500 species are cosmopolitan chiefly north temperate but many occur in the Andes.

Oil of violet derived from Viola odorata L., Viola tricolor L. and Viola pedata L. can produce dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals (Greenberg & Lester 1954).

Viola odorata L.
Sweet Violet

The plant contains a glycoside, gaultherin, which on hydrolysis yields methyl salicylate (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). Reactions to salicylate are noted under Betula.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Viola prionantha Bunge
[syn. Viola prionantha Bunge var. sylvatica Kitagawa]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Viola tricolor L.
Pansy, Heart's Ease

Stuart (1979) notes that the plant has been used in folk medicine to prepare a lotion for use on ulcers and sores and to aid wound healing. Piffard (1881) described the use of a decoction of the plant for topical application and occasional irritation from its use. Leclerc (1930) also reported that a decoction of the plant produced dermatitis. The plant yields methyl salicylate (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Methyl heptine carbonate used for the production of artificial violet odours is a sensitiser (Tulipan 1938, Whitacre and Parsil 1950, Greenberg and Lester 1951, Klarmann 1958).


  • Greenberg LA, Lester D (1954) Handbook of Cosmetic Materials. Their properties, uses, and toxic and dermatologic actions. With a bibliography of over 2,500 titles. New York: Interscience Publishers [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Klarmann, E.G. (1958) Perfume dermatitis. Ann. Allergy 16: 425.
  • Leclerc, H. (1930) La pensee sauvage (Viola tricolor L.) dans le traitment des dermatoses. Presse Med. No. 76: 1283. Cited by Touton (1932).
  • Piffard HG (1881) A Treatise on the Materia Medica and Therapeutics of the Skin. New York: William Wood & Company [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Stuart M (1979) Reference section. In: Stuart M (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, pp. 141-283. London: Orbis Publishing [WorldCat] [url]
  • Touton K (1932) Hauterkrankungen durch phanerogamische Pflanzen und ihre Produkte (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes) [Skin Diseases Caused by Phanerogamic Plants and their Products (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes)]. In: Jadassohn J (Ed.) Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten. Band IV, Teil I. Angeborene Anomalien. Lichtdermatosen. Pflanzengifte. Thermische Schädigungen. Einfluss Innerer Störungen auf die Haut [Handbook of Skin and Venereal Diseases. Volume IV, Part I. Congenital abnormalities. Photodermatoses. Plant toxins. Thermal injuries. Influence of internal disorders on the skin], pp. 487-697. Berlin: Julius Springer [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Tulipan, L. (1938) Cosmetic irritants. Archs Derm. Syph. 38: 906.
  • Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. Being an account of their medicinal and other uses, chemical composition, pharmacological effects and toxicology in man and animal, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Whitacre, F.M. and Parsil, R.C. (1950) Cosmetic sensitizers. Ann. Allergy 8: 670.

Richard J. Schmidt

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