Appalachia Games Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Roosters and Violets

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in April of 2010. Since it mentions a game I played as I child I thought I’d re-post the piece.

Wild violets

In the gardening world folks either love wild violets with a fierce devotion or hate them and their spreading ways with a passion. Me-I love their little cheerful faces so much that I don’t mind if they spread till they’re a purple carpet for me to walk about on.

Eating wild violets

In fact-in Granny’s yard that’s exactly what they’ve done. Spread until it’s like a real life violet vale.

When it comes to wild violets-there’s a long list. Just to name a few: the birds foot, the common blue, the marsh blue, the longspur, and the list goes on. In my world-the color of the flower is enough identification for me. (if you’re interested in knowing the name of each violet-go here for a great page of photos with names attached)

White and purple wild violets

Around my house the most common are deep or light purple.

Wild wood violet

As you look around in the woods, you can find dainty little white ones-some have deep red/pink veins that look smudged around the edges-some have brown veins that look like they were drawn on with a fine tipped marker. The tiniest ones that grow along the creek bank are totally white with no markings at all.


Deeper in the woods you’re likely to see yellow violets. With their longer stems and high leaves they always make me think of stately ladies watching over the area making sure all is in order.

Wild violets are edible and medicinal

No one left a comment about my fighting chickens with violets tease-so maybe no one ever played the game I did as a kid.

I can’t remember who showed me how to play-maybe an older cousin-maybe an Uncle-maybe even my Mamaw. I do remember exactly where they showed me. We were on a little bank that ran near the bottom of Pap and Granny’s driveway-the bank isn’t there now-bulldozed away as driveways were needed for new houses.

Look at the photo above-does the violet make you think of a Rooster? See the furry comb like things in the center of the flower-see it’s head?

Fighting chickens with wildflower violets

It only takes 2 people to fight chickens with violets-each person picks their rooster. Then you link/cross them over each other and pull.

The toughest Rooster wins-when the looser looses his head in the fight. I’ll leave you with 2 questions: 1. Are you a violet lover or hater? 2. Did you ever fight violet Roosters when you were a kid?



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  • Reply
    August 6, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I just read your post on violets. I love violets. I remember each spring when the weather started warming up my sister and I would go check to see if the violets were in bloom yet. We didn’t call them violets, we called them Roaster Heads because like you we would play the game to see who’s roaster head was the strongest and best. Thank you for reminding me of those memories.

  • Reply
    RB Redmond
    May 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I love violets anywhere, in any amount, at any time. I do remember a large patch of them that spread in the front yard of our family home long ago. They were dozed for a driveway too when dad built the garage later on. I wish we had them here too, but perhaps our soil is too sandy for them.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    May 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Enjoyed the violet pictures and thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 4, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Love the violets and I have played fighting roosters with them. My mother taught me the game.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    May 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    i love the simplicity of times long gone.. dont you ??? making necklaces of flowers.. wreaths of them.. .blowing dandelion puffs… and that rooster game is so sweet. never did it.. but as for the flower mentioned. its one of my favorites… being that its a lavender color… which i adore.. makes it an easy one to love.. i wish i had a carpet of them here…
    guess with the mowing in the yard. they dont re seed i geuss.. 🙁 they need some place to have peace and undisturbed..
    how about johnny jump ups.. dont you love their little faces? and pansies?
    i am hoping that you dear tipper and family.. are having a wonderful peaceful spring weekend..
    sending big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t know a lot about wild violets but I used to raise African violets from cuttings. Different cuttings from the same mother plant can have different colored blooms. I had upwards of 60 plants at one time. I got tired of rooting them and gave them all away. I am down to one plant and it’s not blooming right now.
    That is something else I remembered my mother doing and decided to do myself. People told me I couldn’t grow African violets but Mommy did and so did I.
    I remember her sending out in the woods to find a rotten stump and collecting “stump dirt” for her to put her plants in. She didn’t root the plants in the dirt. She would cut a leaf with a stem about an inch long. She filled a snuff glass about half full of water and suspended the cutting to where it just barely touched the water. I think she put a big needle through it to hold it in place. I put plastic wrap over the glass and poked holes in it to put the stems through. That way I didn’t have to watch them so close to keep the water from evaporating and leaving the new plants high and dry.
    What this has to do with your violets, I don’t know, unless it stands as an example of how Violets begets Violets.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I think the violets are just one
    of God’s beautiful Creations. My
    brother and I use to fight ’em
    but we never thought of them as
    roosters. And I don’t think I’d
    like jelly made from violets either.
    It does make a pretty jar of jelly
    Can you believe all the Snow some
    of our friends are having from
    Arkansas to Minnesota? …Ken

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Wildflowers to me are just what the name implies. They are an entity of their own. They have that certain something, that certain beauty. No flower has the character they do. It probably has something to do with their creation. You know, kinda like “The Lillies of the Field”. We have those wild violets everywhere around here and it’s sure nice. Thanks Tipper for the pictures.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 11:27 am

    I love violets. Pretty pics that you shared.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Violets are one of my favorite wild flowers and I let them bloom wherever they come up —I use them for jelly and home-made cough syrup so the more that come up the happier I am so that I can still enjoy there beauty—-as for the game I have real roosters to rangel so no need to use the violet although in truth I never heard of the game. The pictures you took were quite lovely and brought a smile to my face.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Never played the game, as a matter of fact, I never heard of that one either. You have come up with some very interesting games in your recent posts. I think I may have been deprived of mother nature’s games. Even though violets are somewhat invasive, I let them have their space.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Love the violets – I first encountered them sprinkled around our yard when we lived in Virginia.
    Hadn’t heard of this game although it reminds me of “pencil break” which far too many students play – such a waste of good pencils – and, of course, then came the excuse, “I can’t do my school work because I don’t have a pencil.” That’s why I and so many other teachers collect all the pencil pieces and bits we find on the ground or elsewhere, and sharpen them so they are ready to be handed to the “poor” child who didn’t have a pencil. (I had special pencils for rewards and for those who truly needed them.)
    While I assume its unlikely that you never heard of “Pencil Break”, I’ll describe it: One child holds their pencil horizontal to the ground, each end lightly held in each hand. The “Opponent” holds his or her pencil securely vertically between thumb and forefinger of one hand, pulls it back with the other hand creating a spring tension which when released pops down on the horizontal pencil. It’s basically a game of destruction but there seemed to be varying amounts of admiration bestowed on 1) the popper not breaking but the horizontal one being completely broken, not cracked; 2) the holder of the horizontal pencil not flinching or dropping the pencil; 3) the amount of sound created when the pencils collide.
    Wonder what the kids will come up with if we truly go to paperless schools – some potentially expensive possibilities!!

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I’ve played some version of every game you’ve posted including this one. Beautiful photos.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Never played that game, but I think it would have seemed a waste of a pretty little violet. I love both violets and lily of the valley, which bloom around the same time here. Never tried to identify the different violets, but l’ll go follow your link now.

  • Reply
    Rose Busch
    May 4, 2013 at 7:51 am

    My feelings toward Violets vacillate between ambivalence and ambiguity. As far as fighting Violets, is that not a game for Pansies? Arise you wicked capitulum and face my wrath!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    May 4, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I often

    “Watch as regal violets
    Lift their heads in morning dew”
    but I must say the violets and roosters game is one new to me! I had not heard of that one before (so must have missed that day in 2010 when you posted it before). I really enjoyed your photographs of violets! Beautiful! Just yesterday I walked with my little 3-year old great great granddaughter as she, with her sense of wonder, discovered and gathered various wild flowers, mainly daffodils and violets. Refreshing!

  • Reply
    Gina S
    May 4, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I love wild violets; always have and always will. My favorites are the purple ones. Never played Fighting Roosters. Until today I’d never heard of it. Once the rain moves out, I’ll teach it to the grands, though.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    May 4, 2013 at 7:19 am

    1, What’s not to love?
    2. Afraid not
    Beautiful pictures. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 4, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Never did the rooster fight and love the violets. There are some beside my driveway. Every year when they bloom I hope they will spread and make more.
    I’m really enjoying your pictures this morning. We’ve had a couple of cold overcast damp days and your pictures lift my spirits. They are a ray on sunshine in the midst of groom. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Dan McCarter
    May 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I remember fighting with the violets but don’t remember calling them roosters.
    But I agree they are beautiful and I try to let them grow as they wish

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Never heard of it. Seems a shame to ruin the violet, they’re such pretty things.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    May 4, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Love violets! Never played the game.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    May 4, 2013 at 6:58 am

    I love, love violets. A lot of gardeners concider them invasive, and they are. I still love to see them blooming around the Oaks and in and around my Daylilies, and of course the Hostas. I have the purple and white and the purple.
    When we moved here in 72 I was determined to have a wildflower garden. I picked a bank and flat area that was chock full of leaf mold, a trickle of morning sun, etc. I fluttered all over these hills in the woods hunting something I could bring down for the garden, that wouldn’t require me to hike around among the ticks and copperheads. I moved a few beautiful birdsfoot violets, and a white violet or two the others were naturally blooming around the edge of the woods. Some small pinksters or honeysuckle bush was blooming on the ridge as well as a few laurel..all pieces moved to the bottom of the hill. I had anomes, jack in the pulpit, trillium, wake robin, may pops just about everything. The piece of trailing Arbutus took special care in a place on a slight bank near oaks…It all grew and I loved to walk around and watch the the blood root open in the spring…The flowers still mostly survive. We lost one tree and pinkster just decided not to stay around after that. I always wanted a yellow violet, but would not move the only one I finally found growing on our place.
    Then a few years later, I was looking out the window toward the bank where the wildflowers were, and saw something down low that looked like a yellow piece of something. Later in the day I went out and to my surprise, up had jumped a yellow violet. It wasn’t exactly in the garden part amoung the rocky moist leaf litter, but it now had a new home and it stayed there for years…Once this garden was made I never weeded or messed with it, all leaves fell on it and most of it did great for years..The Birdsfoot Violet still blooms out around the rocks….
    Never played that rooster game except once with a friend that had a lot of violets. I don’t think I would because I loved them so much. We did shoot plantin stem pods at each other and popped daisy heads off as a child…
    Thanks Tipper, I just love me some violets….Are you making violet jelly this year?

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    May 4, 2013 at 6:10 am

    1st– I love Violets,, (don’t think
    I could understand anyone who
    don’t like them)
    2nd– Never heard of this game.
    Probably a good thing, as boys
    we’d pickem all just fighting
    with them.. I could just hear
    my Mamaw say “son don’t pick
    all my flowers”.

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