July 5 Illinois History Minute
It’s July Fifth, a good day to go out and pick some violets. Specifically, the common blue violet, also known as the dooryard violet, the wood violet and by other names. Violets can be found all over Illinois, their blue, purple, or white heart-shaped petals decorating gardens, and growing wild in lawns, woods and wetlands.
They’re so common that some people look at them as weeds. But the violet is among the first of Illinois’ state symbols. Schoolchildren voted to make the native violet the state flower in 1907, choosing it over the wild rose. And violets don’t just look good --- their vitamin-rich leaves can be served as salads, greens or made into candies and jellies. The common blue violet grows widely in eastern North America, and Wisconsin, Rhode Island and New Jersey have also named it their state flower.