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Home Plant Lore Heartsease


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JUNE: HEARTSEASE – Wild Pansy - Viola tricolor

HeartseaseA hardy perennial growing to about 12 in (30 cm) high, the Wild Pansy flowers from April to September. A field and meadow plant, the Bumble Bee and Pluvia moths were found by Darwin to be the plant's most frequent insect visitors. The name Viola may come from the Greek "Ion". Jupiter turned his love Io into a cow and the earth brought forth Violets for her to eat. It was a symbol of the city of ancient Athens and a symbol of fertility to the ancient Greeks. The “tricolour” part of the name is derived from the flower being of three colours, namely mauve, yellow and blue. For the same reason it is often referred to as the Trinity herb (herba trinitatis) in many old herbals. The name Pansy may have come from the French "pensee", meaning “thought” as the French believed a Pansy could make your lover think of you. The flower is unusual in that it protects itself from rain and dew by drooping its head both at night and in wet weather and therefore the back of the flower and not its face receives the moisture.

A member of the Violet family, it is also known as Johnny Jump-up, Kiss-her-in-the-Buttery, Tickle My Fancy, Kiss-me-quick and Three Faces Under One Hood. In Warwickshire it is known as Love-in-Idleness and in some Somerset villages the plant is known as Biddy's Eyes after St Bride who spent time in Somerset and left there her bell, missal and sleeves when she set sail for Ireland. Other names include: Love-Lies-Bleeding, Loving Idol, Cuddle Me, Call-me-to-you, Jack jump-up-and-kiss-me, Meet-me-in-the-Entry, Kiss-her-in-the-Buttery, Three-Faces-under-a-Hood, Kit-run-in-the-Fields, Pink-o'-the-Eye, Godfathers and Godmothers, Stepmother, Herb Trinity, Herb Constancy, Pink-eyed-John, Bouncing Bet, Flower o'luce, Bird's Eye, and Bullweed.

In the past, the Wild Pansy has been used for many medicinal purposes which include remedies for fevers and ulcers and also a healing herb for wounds. Its name Heartsease, comes from its use for heart conditions and it has also been used in herbal teas to relieve catarrh, arthritis, prostate inflammations and cystitis. It was also used to cure epilepsy, asthma and bronchitis and was applied externally to treat a range of skin diseases including eczema. Wild Pansy flowers contain a high concentration of rutin which was used to prevent bruising and broken capillaries and to reduce blood pressure and the build up of fluid in tissues. The plant is also mildly laxative.

Welsh insurrectionists during the 1830s identified themselves to each other by wearing Heartsease in buttonholes. Folklore has it that you should not pick Pansies on a fine day or while they have dew on the petals as this will result in the death of a loved one or cause it to rain. Such lore also says that you should plant Pansies in a heart shape to make them grow well. The Celts used to brew a tea from the dried leaves to make love potions and the flowers can be dried and added to pot pourri.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 June 2010 21:31  


#1 Catherine 2010-09-21 12:33
Okay, often I would like rain but if picking on a fine day whilst dew is on the petals could cause the death of a loved one... it's obvious I must seek rain through another source. Lovely blog Malcolm!



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