New Jersey State Flower - Violet

The leaves of the violet can be used in salads, and the flowers are used in candies.

The leaves of the violet can be used in salads, and the flowers are used in candies.

The violet is the official floral symbol of four states in the U.S., including New Jersey. Though it is found throughout the country, the flower flourishes east of the Mississippi. The low-growing plant makes an effective ground cover and, because it's edible, is sometimes used to dress up a salad or as an ingredient in jams and syrups.


The common blue violet has purple flowers with white centers and heart-shaped, slightly fuzzy leaves. It grows in clumps low to the ground. In fact, the stem and flowering parts grow less than 5 to 6 inches tall, making it a good choice to fill in a flower bed or larger area in the landscape.


The violet has had a hard time retaining its official flower status in New Jersey. It was first named state flower in 1913. A year later, the legislation expired, and the violet was out. In 1963, the flower got another shot at being the state flower, but the bill failed. Finally, in 1971, the state's garden clubs convinced lawmakers to pass legislation making the violet (Viola sororia) the official state flower. So far, that statute remains on the books.

Growth and Care

The violet grows well in full or partial shade in moist, well-drained soils. The violet needs a lot of water and flourishes in soils that retain moisture. Plants can be set close together; they spread less than a foot. Expect to see blooms from April to August, and don't be surprised if more violets pop up years after you add the plant to your garden. Violets self-propagate by seed, and if growing conditions are just right, they can even become invasive.

Fun Facts

Lawmakers in four states found the violet alluring enough to make it their state flower. The violet reigns supreme in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Illinois and Rhode Island. Illinois nabbed it first. In Ancient Greece, the flower was a symbol of fertility and the plant was used in love potions. Romans took a different view of the violet. They used it as a decorative plant and viewed it as a symbol of innocence and modesty. Even today, the violet is sometimes called a shy plant. That may be because the flowers tend to dip down, as if bowing their heads.

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