Viola tricolor, or wild pansy always reminds me of my mother. Not because it is her favourite plant – that is the hydrangea, the variety with deep blue flowers – but because she always loved having this plant in her garden. As soon as it started to look anything like spring, they would show up at the front of the house, giving it a cheerful look instantly. So, as you will understand, I have pleasant memories of pansy.
However, pansy is not only a pleasant plant to behold, but it also has a lot of useful properties. It has a broad medicinal effect. Think of skin conditions and conditions where detoxification and blood purification have an important role to play in solving a disorder. Wild pansy can also be used for several urinary tract-related and respiratory disorders.
Pansy operates subtly and, as a result, is not usually seen as a powerhouse plant. However, exactly this trait makes pansy suitable for those who need a gentler approach, such as children and people with a weak constitution after a serious illness or surgery.
Symbolically, pansy stands for purity and love, but also for death. In terms of magical properties, this plant influences both the finding and keeping of love. It predicts and affects rain. At the same time, pansy has a magical reputation for being a plant of death and misfortune.
Pansy is usually an annual, sometimes a biennial plant. It stands on a taproot with lateral roots. The stem is thin and erect. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, dentate to lobed with trilobed to octolobed or pinnatifid stipules of which the foliole is most strongly developed.
The flowers stand alone and appear in the colours white, yellow, lilac and purple and a myriad of combinations of those four colours. The flowers have five petals, one pointing downward, elongated and spurred, and the other four pointing upward. The flower has five stamens with yellow anthers and a pistil with a spherical stigma. After the flower a valvate capsule develops from which numerous seeds emerge.
Viola tricolor does not smell strongly. Her sister wood violet (Viola odorata), on the other hand, is strongly aromatic. This little sister has been used medicinally since recorded history. Viola tricolor has a shorter history of employment, but is now used more widely than the odorata.
Even Shakespeare was aware of pansy’s magical powers. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon drops pansy juice in Titania’s eye to ensure her falling in love with the first person she would see upon awakening. It was his intention, of course, that he would be that person, but things turned out differently.
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