Each Spring I enjoy the sight of the first Violas that appear within grassy areas. One reason is that it announces Spring, and the other, is that they are edible and tasty! Violets and violas are the same thing: “violet” is the common name, “viola” is the scientific name. There are three related plants in this family: Violets (Viola odorata) Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolor) and Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana). Violets are hardy perennials whereas Johnny-jump-ups and pansies are annuals. Johnny-jump-ups often reseed. Viola petals have a sweet, perfumed flavor, and are a delight to eat raw having been freshly picked. Viola petals have also been used in teas, to color butter, in fruit salads, for decorating cakes and pies, to float in punch bowls, and sugar coated as candy. For more information on how to choose edible flowers, visit http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain.htm.