Viola Tricolor: a Novel and Therapeutic Remedy

The common name of Pansy (older form ‘Pawnce,’ as in Spenser) is derived from the French pensées, the name which is still used in France. Shakespeare’s Ophelia says of pansies in Hamlet, “There’s a pansy, that’s for thought,” because their name comes from French pensée, “thought.” In traditional “flower language,” pansy’s three colors-purple, white, and yellow-stand for memories, loving thoughts, and souvenirs, all of which ease the hearts of separated lovers. Pansy therefore is also called by the name heartsease.

Wild pansy is indigenous to or naturalized in large parts of Europe and the Middle East as far as Central Asia, also found through the United States. In the Lithuanian flora wild pansy habitats areas have been fast reducing; this not only limits the availability of the reserves of medicinal raw materials for pharmacy and therapy needs but also causes a menace to survival of species. [1,2,3]

The wild species is an annual, but from it the countless varieties of the perennial garden pansies, with blossoms of large size and singular beauty, are supposed to have originated.

Macroscopic Feature

The flowers vary a great deal in colour and size, but are either purple, yellow or white, and most commonly there is a combination of all these colours in each blossom. The upper petals are generally most showy in colour and purple in tint, while the lowest and broadest petal is usually a more or less deep tint of yellow. The flowers with a long peduncle, are zygomorphic , with 5 oval , lanceolate sepals, an appendage pointed outwards and 5 petals of which the lower one bears a spur.

. The stem is angular and hollow. The leaves are oval, petiolate, with a cordate base or elongated and obtuse, with lyrate stipules, divided in the middle. The andromecium consist of 5 stamens bears at the apex a membranous connective appendage with 2 spurs

The triocular ovary shows a a short style and globular stigmata. The fruits are navicular capsules, three lobed yellowish brown, 5mm to 10mm long. The pale yellow, pyriform seeds are about 1mm long, bearing a caruncle. [4]


Wild Pansy. Love-Lies-Bleeding. Love-in-Idleness. Live-in-Idleness. Loving Idol. Love Idol. Cull Me. Cuddle Me. Call-me-to-you. Jackjump-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. Kit-run-about. Godfathers and Godmothers. Stepmother. Herb Trinitatis. Herb Constancy. Pink-eyed-John. Bouncing Bet. Flower o’luce. Bird’s Eye.Bullweed.Anglo-Saxon)Banwort,Banewort.(French)Pensée.


Wild pansy (Viola tricolor L.) has a history in folk medicine of helping respiratory

problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and cold symptoms. The drugs and extracts are prepared from raw material of pansy; it is a component of some prepared expectorant, dermatological medicines and tonics, alteratives, and anti-phlebitis remedies. John Gerard’s Herball (1597) quotes medical opinion that pansy tea is effective for infantile convulsions, goes on to commend it for “chest and lung inflammations,” and also speaks of its effectiveness externally for scabs, itching, and ulcers. This external use caused pansy to be listed for a time in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, and has continued in herbal medicine. [1]

Art And Culture

The pansy remains a favorite image in the arts, culture, and crafts, from needlepoint to ceramics. Shakespeare and other famous personalities of 19th and 20th century was quite impressed with its beauty .There were some instances from which we can assume the cultural importance of the plant

In 1827, Pierre-Joseph Redouté painted Bouquet of Pansies.

In 1926, Georgia O’Keeffe created a famous painting of a black pansy called simply, Pansy. She followed with White Pansy in 1927.

D. H. Lawrence wrote a book of poetry entitled Pansies: Poems by D. H. Lawrence.

In ancient days the plant was much used for its potency in love charms, hence perhaps its name of Heartsease It is this flower that plays such an important part as a love-charm in William Shakespeare’s play Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Act II, Scene I see also: Oberon at II, i)

The folkloric language of flowers is more traditional than scientific, with conventional interpretations, similar to the clichés about animals such as the “clever fox” or “wise owl”. Ophelia’s oft-quoted line, “There’s pansies, that’s for thoughts”, in Hamlet (Act IV, Scene V)

The Pansy is a symbol of the Delta Delta Delta women’s fraternity, and represents the alumni members.

The celebrated Quesnay, founder of the ‘Economists,’ physician to Louis XV, was called by the king his ‘thinker,’ and given, as an armorial bearing, three pansy flowers.

In many old Herbals the plant is called Herba Trinitatis, being dedicated by old writers to the Trinity, because it has in each flower three colours [1]

Vernacular name : Heartsease; pensée sauvage (French); Feldstiefmütterchen (German); viola del pensiero (Italian).


Pansy is native to Europe, North Africa, and temperate regions of Asia, and has become naturalized in the Americas. Pansy thrives in many habitats, from grassy mountainous areas to coastal sites, and is cultivated as a garden plant, is abundantly met with almost throughout Britain. It is a very widely distributed plant, found not only throughout Britain, but in such diverse places as Arctic Europe, North Africa, Siberia and N.W. India. Though found on hedge banks and waste ground, it seems in an especial degree a weed of cultivation, found most freely in cornfields and garden ground. It blossoms almost throughout the entire floral season, expanding its attractive little flowers in the early days of summer and keeping up a succession of blossom until late in autumn. [2,3]


Pansy breeding has produced a wide range of flower colors including yellow, gold, orange, purple, violet, red, white, and even black (dark purple) many with large showy face markings. A large number of bicolored flowers have also been produced. These are generally very cold drought resistant plant surviving freezing even during their blooming period. Plants grow well in sunny or partially sunny positions in well draining soils. Pansies are developed from viola species that are normally biennials with a two-year life cycle. The first year plant produce greenery and then bear flowers and seeds their second year of growth and afterwards die like annuals. Most biennials are purchased as packs of young plants from the nurseries and planted directly into the garden soil. Under favorable conditions, pansies and viola can often be grown as perennial plants, but are generally treated as annuals or biennial plants because after a few years of growth the stems become long and scraggly. Plants grow up to nine inches (23 cm) tall, and the flowers are two to three inches (about 6 cm) in diameter, though there are some smaller and larger flowering cultivars available too. Pansies are winter hardy and they can even survive between -37°C to -12°C (zones 4-8.) They can survive light freezes and short periods of snow cover, in areas with prolonged snow cover they survive best with a covering of a dry winter mulch. In warmer climates, i.e. -7°Cto+4°C (zones 9-11), pansies can bloom over the winter, and are often planted in the fall. In these climates, pansies have been known to reseed themselves and come back the next year. Pansies are not very heat-tolerant; they are best used as a cool season planting, warm temperatures inhibit blooming and hot muggy air causes rot and death. In colder zones, pansies may not persist without snow cover or protection (mulch) from the extreme cold.

Pansies should be watered thoroughly about once a week, depending on climate and rainfall. To maximize blooming, plant food should be used about every other week, according to the plant food directions


The herb can be collected throughout its growing season from March to August


 The pansy (Viola L.) is the only non-tropical genus of the tropical Violaceae Out of the several species of pansy; two are medicinal: wild (V. tricolorL.) and field (V. arvensis Murray) pansy not much differing in habitat and content of active substances and usage.

 Chemical Constituents [5,6,7,8]Salicylic acid derivatives (Methyl salicylic Acid and Violutoside )

Percentage occurrence 0.3%

Usages Salicylic acid has keratinolytic properties and is applied topically in the treatment hyperkeratotic and scaling conditions such as dandruff, ichthyosis and psoriasis. Initially a concentration of 2% is used increasing to about 6% if necessary.

Chemical Constituents [5,6,7,8] Mucilages (made up of glucose galactose arabinose and rhamnose )

Percentage occurrence 10.0%

Chemical Constituents [5,6,7,8] Tannins

Percentage occurence 2.4 %

Usages Anti-inflammatory effect

Chemical Constituents [5,6,7,8] Flavonoids

Percentage occurence 4.5%

a) Usages Flavonoids like Rutin and Violanthin is also an antioxidant, and therefore plays a role in inhibiting some cancers. reduce inflammation and oxidation, accelerating the healing of derma and

 Chemical Constituents [5,6,7,8] Carotenoids (violaxanthin zeaxanthin

Percentage occurence 3.41%

Usages These molecules reduce inflammation and oxidation, accelerating the healing of dermatitis.

Chemical Constituents Coumarin

Usages It can occur either free or combined with the sugar glucose (coumarin glycoside) in pansy. Coumarin has blood-thinning, anti-fungicidal and anti-tumor activities. Coumarin should not be taken while using anticoagulants. Coumarin increases the blood flow in the veins and decreases capillary permeability. Coumarin can be toxic when used at high doses for a long period

Chemical Constituents Violine


Wild Pansy contains an acrid and poisonous principle unique molecule, violine, resembles emetine in its action, is a pale-yellow or white powder of bitter and acrid taste, more soluble in water than emetine, insoluble in ether, quite soluble in alcohol, and forming an insoluble compound with tannin solution. It also exists in other plants of this family, particularly in the rhizomes of the perennial, and especially the stemless species of violet

In internal use, this molecule is responsible for its laxative and depurative effects in the treatment of dermatitis. At high dosages, violine has an emetic effect.

Useful Parts of Viola tricolor

1. Flowers It has cooling,emollient and cathartic Bronchitis and Rheumatism, mucolytic, sweltering, blood-cleansing effect

2. Roots It has emeto-cathartic Purgative property

3. Seeds Used as a Laxatives, Uric acid gravel Emetic, Purgative, mucolytic, sweltering, blood-cleansing effect

4. Leaves Used as Emetic , keratinolytic

 Therapeutic Uses

  •  Pansy has been used for centuries as an effective expectorant that has been helpful in easing chest problems, such as bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, lung inflammation and dry coughs.  It is said to help loosen and expel phlegm.  The mucilage in Pansy acts as a demulcent that soothes mucous membranes and eases painful coughs, and the salicylic acid content helps to ease the pain of lung inflammations. .
  •  It is believed that the blood cleansing properties of the pansy makes it especially useful for scrofula and skin eruptions in children.  When taken internally, it is said to rid the body of toxic products that cause skin problems, including acne. Due to this property it is used as topically in lotions and poultices, it is said to treat wounds, scabies, boils, itching, rashes, impetigo, acne, swellings and weeping eczema.
  • Pansy promotes the flow of urine and expels toxins and waste through the increased urine; and as a diaphoretic, it promotes sweating, which not only cools the body and reduces fever, but it will also further rid the body of toxins through the skin. Therefore it works as a diuretic
  •  Pansy is said to strengthen the blood vessels and stabilize capillary membrane fragility and act as a gentle circulatory stimulant.  These qualities are said to help combat arteriosclerosis by improving blood flow and also help in cases of varicose ulcers.
  • Pansy is used as a mild sedative and calmative, and has been used to soothe nervous complaints, including hysteria, and it is also considered an anodyne or substance that relieves pain or promotes general comfort
  •  Recent studies shows that the cytotoxic cycloids Cycloviacin obtained from Pansy has a anti tumor activity


Pansy is used mostly in three areas, the skin, lungs and urinary system. Pansy may be used in eczema and other skin problems where there is exudate (often called weeping) eczema. As an anti-inflammatory expectorant pansy is used for whooping cough and acute bronchitis where it will soothe and help the body heal itself. For urinary problems pansy will aid in the healing of cystitis and can be used to treat the symptoms of frequent and painful urination.


1. Gaylor, Annie Laurie Rediscovering A Forgotten Symbol Of Freethought – A Pansy For Your Thoughts”. Freethought Today June/July 1997.

2. Scharfetter R. Biographien von Pflanzensippen. Wien. 1953.

3. Spegg H. Planta medica. 1959; 7: 8-23

4.British Pharmacopoeia 2008 Vol 2; The stationary office on behalf of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ; 1649-50

5. Silvija R, Ona R, Nijolë S; 1The cumulation of Wild pansy (Viola tricolor L.) accessions:the possibility of species preservation and usage in medicine ; MEDICINA (2003) 39 tomas, ;414-416

6. Bisset NG, Wichtl M.;. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals. CRS Press, L.-N.Y.-W. Medpharm GmbHScientific publishers Stuttgart; 2001. ; 527-9.

7. Serbinova E. ;Oxidative damage and repair. ;1991; 77-80.

8. Savickienë N, Dagilytë A, Lukoðius A, Þitkevièius V. ;Importance of biologically active components and plants for the prevention of diabetes mellitus ; Medicina (Kaunas) 2002;38:970-5.

9. T. H. Koopman,J. Naardingsstraat ;Information about ‘MICROBIOTICUM’ manufactured by INEKO bv (The Netherlands Europe);Aver Nv;15-16

Source by Shruti

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