The pansy is a group of large-flowered hybrid plants cultivated as garden flowers. Pansies are derived from viola species Viola tricolor hybridized with other viola species, these hybrids are referred to as Viola × wittrockiana. The pansy flower is two to three inches in diameter and has two slightly overlapping upper petals, two side petals, and a single bottom petal with a slight beard emanating from the flower's center. The plant may grow to nine inches in height, and prefers sun to varying degrees and well-draining soils.
The common names "pansy" and "violet" are often used interchangeably. When a distinction is made, plants considered to be pansies have four petals pointing upwards, and only one pointing down. Violets have three petals pointing up and two pointing down. Thus Viola cornuta is commonly referred to as a pansy.
The name pansy is derived from the French word pensée "thought", and was imported into Late Middle English as a name of viola in the mid 15th century, as the flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance. The name "love in idleness" was meant to imply the image of a lover who has little or no other employment than to think of his beloved one. The name "heart"s-ease" came from the woman St. Euphrasia, whose name in Greek signifies cheerfulness of mind. The woman, who refused marriage and took the veil, was considered a pattern of humility, hence the name "humble violet".
Modern horticulturalists tend to use the term "pansy" for those multi-coloured large-flowered hybrids that are grown for bedding purposes every year, while "viola" is usually reserved for smaller, more delicate annuals and perennials.
In Scandinavia, Scotland, and German-speaking countries, the pansy (or its wild parent Viola tricolor) is or was known as the "stepmother"; the name was accompanied by an aitiological tale about a selfish stepmother, told to children while the teller plucked off corresponding parts of the blossom to fit the plot. In Italy the pansy is known as flammola (little flame), and in Hungary it is known as árvácska (small orphan). In Israel, the pansy is known as "Amnon and Tamar", after the biblical characters (II Samuel 13). In The United States, pansies have been colloquially referred to as "football flowers" because of the Milwaukee "Football" or soccer decorations that use white chrysanthemums and black pansies to create a soccer ball (no flower gets quite as black as a pansy). In some countries of Spanish language, the pansy is known as "Pensamiento" or "Trinitaria".Source: Wikipedia
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