6 Surprising Facts About Pansies You Probably Didn't Know
There's more to those little faces than meets the eye. Learn the symbolism and significance of your favorite spring flowers.
What's not to love about pansies? Not only are they one of the first signs of spring in garden centers, but their endurance to cold weather makes them a staple in early-spring containers. And let's not forget about the punch of color they add to fall gardens, too. These cheery blooms look similar to violets, but there's a visible difference between the two. You can tell a pansy from a violet based on how many petals face upward and downward: Pansies have four petals facing up and one petal facing down, while violets have three petals facing up and two petals facing down. Learn more about these cool-season bloomers that add color and whimsey to the garden.
1. Pansies Are Edible
Pansies are a good go-to edible flower for cake decorating and cocktail garnishes—you may even find them in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. Both the blooms and the leaves are edible and high in vitamins A and C. The flavor is minty and has been used to make syrup, flavored honey, and natural dyes.
2. Pansies Appear in Shakespeare's Plays
Pansies are known as a symbol of love and loving thoughts. In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the juice of a pansy was used in a love potion, referencing the Ancient Greeks’ and Celts’ use of the flower in herbal remedies and love potions. Both Laertes and Ophelia mention pansies in Hamlet.
3. They Come in Three Basic Patterns
Pansy varieties have flowers in one of three color patterns. There are pansies with single colors without patterns—these are often yellow or blue. Another basic pattern has black lines radiating from the center. The last type is the most well-known and complex—dark splotches from the center create a face-like appearance, and these varieties are often tri-colored.
4. Not All Pansies Have a Scent
Some varieties are known for their pleasant fragrance, while others don’t have a noticeable scent at all. Yellow and blue pansies seem to have the strongest scent, and they seem to have a stronger fragrance in the early morning and at dusk.
5. Pansies Were Used in Fortune Telling
The legendary Knights of the Round Table looked for omens and signs in the petals of pansies. If a pansy petal had four lines, there was hope for the future. If the lines leaned to the left, someone’s life was at risk. Line thickness, leaning, and number all had different meanings that supposedly foretold the future.
6. February’s Birth Flower Is the Pansy
People born in the month of February have the pansy as their birth flower. Purple pansies are some of the most popular, which plays off the hue of February’s birthstone, the amethyst. Pansies are also early bloomers, so those with a February birthday may be able to find pansies around the time of their birth month.