Also called johnny jump up, this herbaceous annual is native to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa, and a member of the violet family, Violaceae. The ancient Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD) identifies several different plants that he calls violets, and one of them is believed to be V. arvensis, that we call field pansy. Pliny goes on to give the many medicinal uses of violets in general and white and yellow violets in particular but the specific plant involved is not certain. A carbonized seed capsule of V. arvensis has been found in the excavations of Pompeii.
Description: The plant grows up to 8″ tall from a taproot and has a slender, erect stem. The leaves are up to 1″ long, oval to round, and have bluntly toothed margins. The flowers appear in spring and have 4-5 white or pale cream-colored petals with a yellow throat accented with a few, dark purple lines. The lateral petals are bearded on the upper surface, while the lower most petal is larger than the others and is spurred. The fruit is a dry, 3-valved capsule that splits open to expel many small seeds. Plants readily self seed and can become weedy.
Bloom: White or pale cream-colored flowers with a yellow throat, accented with a few, dark purple lines.
Size: 8″ H
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained, slightly acidic
Photo Credit Kenraiz Wikimedia Commons