There's more to those little faces than you might realize, including plenty of symbolism and significance to your favorite cool-season flowers.

By Jenny Krane
Updated September 30, 2020
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What's not to love about pansies? Not only are they one of the first signs of spring in garden centers, but their ability to bloom in cold weather makes them a staple for planting in fall containers and garden beds, too. These cheery blooms look similar to violas, and you may have heard the names used interchangeably, but there are a few differences between these types of plants. Pansies tend to have larger flowers and more color varieties to choose from, plus grow more upright than violas. Here are a few more fun facts about these colorful cool-season flowers you might not know.

Genus Viola pansies
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

1. Pansies Are Edible

These little blossoms are a 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. They taste like a slightly floral version of lettuce, and the flowers can be used to make syrup, flavored honey, and natural dyes.

2. Pansies Symbolize Love and Remembrance

Pansies are a symbol of love and affectionate thoughts (their name is thought to derive from the French word for thought). 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. In Victorian England, people gave these flowers to each other to express romantic feelings.

3. They Come in Three Basic Patterns

The flowers from pansy varieties come in one of three color patterns. There are pansies with single colors without patterns, which 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 tend to have a stronger fragrance in the early morning and at dusk.

5. February’s Birth Flower Is the Pansy

Those born in the month of February get to claim the pansy or violet 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.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
August 31, 2019
Nice story, but the birth flower for February traditionally is the violet, not the pansy. They are however, related.