Herb of the Year--Present and Past

2022 Herb of the Year Pansies and Violets

Each year the International Herb Association selects one herb to celebrate as the Herb of the Year. Selected plants must be outstanding in at least two of three major categories: decorative, culinary, or medicinal. The 2022 Herb of the Year, Pansy, scores in all three categories.
Pansy / Violet (Viola sp.) 
1. Decorative
Pansies have tremendous value in northern climates for extending the growing season. We treasure them for their sweet fragrance and multi-colored flowers.
They are among the most cold-tolerant flowers and will bloom through a light freeze (temperatures down to 29 degrees F). For this reason, Pansies are a go-to choice for early-season container plantings. We are not considered frost-free in our area until late May. Pansies offer floral color for at least six weeks before we ordinarily put flowers in our container plantings.
2. Culinary*
Pansy and violet flowers are edible and are superb as a decorative garnish for soups, omelets, desserts, and beverages. Pansy flowers will also dress up salads and make a lovely embellishment to cheese boards and fruit plates.
Children particularly enjoy picking these fragrant little flowers and using them to decorate sweet treats such as cupcakes or frosted cookies.
*As with edible plants, avoid harvesting from plants that have been treated with harmful chemicals. Use clean plants only.
3. Medicinal
Historically, Violets were a healing herb. Even today, naturopaths use viola tinctures or extracts to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and diaper rash.
What’s the Different Between Pansy and Violet?
All Violets and Pansies are members of the genus Viola. All Pansies are Violets, but not all Violets are Pansies. Confused yet? There are many small-flowering Violet species. Some are desirable natives, and some are weeds. However, the seasonal plants you see in garden centers are either Pansy or Viola – hybrids selected for more profuse or larger flowers.
Most Pansies have large flowers and feature a prominent central blotch of a contrasting color. In some cases, however, this blotch has been modified to a network of fine lines or eliminated.
Pansies have four petals pointing up and one pointing down, while Violets have two petals pointing up and three pointing down.
 

Past Herbs of the Year

1995  Fennel

1996  Monarda

1997  Thyme

1998  Mint

1999  Lavender

2000  Rosemary

2001  Sage

2002  Echinacea

2003  Basil

2004  Garlic

2005  Oregano & Marjoram

2006  Scented Geraniums

2007  Lemon Balm

2008  Calendula

2009  Bay Laurel

2010  Dill

2011  Horseradish

2012  Rose

2013  Elderberry

2014  Artemisia ssp. (Wormwood, Tarragon, et al.)

2015  Savory Saturea ssp.

2016  Peppers Capsicum ssp

2017  Coriander/Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

2018 Hopps

2019 Hyssop