An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Viola tricolor

Viola tricolor

Wild pansy or heartsease (Viola tricolor L.) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Violaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Violales Order,
Violaceae family,
Genus Viola,
V. tricolor species.
For this species, several synonyms have been attributed over time which are:
– Mnemion elegans Spach;
– Mnemion sagotii (Jord.) Fourr.
– Mnemion sudeticum Fourr.;
– Mnemion tricolor (L.) Spach;
– Mnemion variatum (Jord.) Fourr.;
– Viola alpestris subsp. paulini Hayek;
– Viola ammotropha E.H.L.Krause;
– Viola banatica Kit.;
– Viola banatica Kit. ex Schult.;
– Viola bella Gren.;
– Viola bicolor Hoffm.;
– Viola calcarata Vill.;
– Viola calcarata subsp. grandiflora (L.) Nyman, 1878;
– Viola calcarata var. grandiflora (L.) Rouy & Foucaud, 1896;
– Viola cenisia Schangin;
– Viola confinis Jord.;
– Viola confinis Jord. ex Nyman;
– Viola curtisiae E.Forst.;
– Viola deminuta Schur;
– Viola derelicta Jord.;
– Viola flavida Jord.;
– Viola foucaudii Sav.;
– Viola garganica Strobl;
– Viola gracilis Martrin-Donos;
– Viola gracilis Martrin-Donos ex Nyman;
– Viola grandiflora L.;
– Viola kupffieri Klokov;
– Viola lepida Jord.;
– Viola leptoceras Schur;
– Viola lilascens Heldr.;
– Viola lilascens Heldr. ex Boiss.;
– Viola lloydii Jord.;
– Viola lloydii Jord. ex Boreau;
– Viola lutea var. sagotii (Jord.) Nyman, 1878;
– Viola lutea var. vivariensis (Jord.) Nyman, 1878;
– Viola maritima Spreng.;
– Viola maritima Spreng. ex Mert. & W.D.J.Koch;
– Viola media (DC.) Chaillet;
– Viola media (DC.) Chaillet ex Schult.;
– Viola meduanensis Boreau;
– Viola mentita Jord.;
– Viola micrantha Bertol.;
– Viola mucuzii Orph.;
– Viola mucuzii Orph. ex Nyman;
– Viola mutabilis Rochel;
– Viola occulta Otto;
– Viola olonnensis Genev.;
– Viola paillouxi Jord.;
– Viola pallescens Jord.;
– Viola parviflora Kit.;
– Viola parviflora Kit. ex Schult.;
– Viola peregrina Jord.;
– Viola peregrina Jord. ex Boreau;
– Viola perennis Vilm.;
– Viola perrobusta Borbás;
– Viola provostii Boreau;
– Viola pseudolutea Schur;
– Viola ruralis Jord.;
– Viola ruralis Jord. ex Boreau;
– Viola sabulosa (DC. ex Ging.) Boreau;
– Viola sagotii Jord.;
– Viola saxatilis var. vivariensis (Jord.) Gren., 1847;
– Viola soongorica Fisch.;
– Viola soongorica Fisch. ex Ledeb.;
– Viola subtilis Jord.;
– Viola symei Baker;
– Viola tenella Michx.;
– Viola tenella Muhl.;
– Viola tricolor f. tenella Farw.;
– Viola tricolor subsp. alpestris (DC.) Schinz & R.Keller, 1905;
– Viola tricolor subsp. grandiflora (L.) Berher, 1887;
– Viola tricolor subsp. ruralis (Jord. ex Boreau) Berher, 1887;
– Viola tricolor subsp. vivariensis (Jord.) Rouy & Foucaud, 1896;
– Viola tricolor var. alpestris DC.;
– Viola tricolor var. ammotropha Wittr.;
– Viola tricolor var. derelicta (Jord.) Nyman, 1878;
– Viola tricolor var. pallescens (Jord.) Nyman, 1878;
– Viola tricolor var. sabulosa DC.;
– Viola tricolor var. sabulosa DC. ex Ging.;
– Viola tricolor var. sagotii (Jord.) Gaut., 1898;
– Viola tricolor var. subalpina Latourr.;
– Viola tricolor var. vectensis N.H.Williams;
– Viola variata Jord.;
– Viola variegata Vuk.;
– Viola vectensis (F.N.Williams) Drabble;
– Viola versicolor Salisb.;
– Viola virgata Gren.;
– Viola vivariensis Jord..
Within this species, the following subspecies are also recognized:
– Viola tricolor subsp. alpestris (Ging.) Ces.;
– Viola tricolor subsp. curtisii (E.Forst.) Syme;
– Viola tricolor subsp. faeroeënsis Becker;
– Viola tricolor subsp. maritima Schweigg. ex Clausen;
– Viola tricolor subsp. matutina (Klokov) Valentine;
– Viola tricolor subsp. polychroma (A.Kern.) Nyman;
– Viola tricolor subsp. saxatilis (F.W. Schmidt) Jan;
– Viola tricolor subsp. tricolor.

Etymology –
The term Viola comes from the Greek ἴον íon viola, from an ancient ϝίον fíon with the same meaning.
The specific tricolor epithet comes from tris / tres tre and from color color: due to the presence of the tricolor corolla.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Viola tricolor is an annual or short-lived, polymorphic perennial plant with Eurasian distribution, often confused with V. arvensis. It is a very common plant in Europe, where it grows in the wild and present from Great Britain, from Scandanavia in the south and east to Corsica, western Asia, Siberia, the Caucasus.
The plant was introduced to North America, where it spread.
It is present in Italy, with two subspecies, in almost all regions and with a rather sparse regional distribution limited to the alpine sector proper.
Its habitat is that of cultivated and uncultivated land, meadows, etc., mainly on acidic and neutral soils, from sea level to the upper mountain belt. It is one of the species from which cultivated pansy was obtained.

Description –
The Viola tricolor is a small herbaceous plant, with a climbing habit, which reaches a maximum of 15 cm in height, with flowers of about 1.5 cm in diameter.
It has a rhizome root from which fine rootlets branch off.
The stem is hairless, sometimes downy and is branched. The plant has no leaf rosette at the base, unlike other violets, such as Viola hirta.
The leaves are, on the contrary, alternate; the lower ones with oval to heart-shaped lamina, petiolate and crenate: the upper ones lanceolate-cuneate.
The stipules are often quite developed, at least those of the upper leaves. These stipules are lined in the shape of a palm.
The flowers are solitary and lateral, carried on long peduncles. They appear on aerial stems with more or less long internodes. The sepals are never larger than the corolla. It is 10 to 25 mm long. The corolla can be purple, blue, yellow or white. Most often it can be two-tone, yellow and purple. The tricolor form, yellow, white and purple, is the most sought after.
It blooms from April to September and the plants are hermaphroditic and self-fertile, pollinated by bees or bumblebees.
The fruit is a three-valve loculicidal capsule, slightly shorter than the sepals, with 6 evident longitudinal ribs, ovoid or ellipsoid, glabrous, 8-12 mm. Numerous seeds, obovoid, of 1,4-1,7 x 0,7-0,9 mm, smooth of brown color. Eleosome oblique, obtuse, white.
It can produce up to 50 seeds at a time.

Cultivation –
Viola tricolor is a highly variable plant, from annual to perennial that is also used in the wild for local use as a food, medicine and dye source. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in the garden.
For its cultivation it is necessary to choose a fresh, humid, well-drained soil, rich in humus, in more or less partial shade and protected from hot winds.
From the pedological point of view it tolerates sandstone and limestone soils but becomes chlorotic if the pH is too high; the optimal pH is between 6 and 6.5.
Propagation occurs by seed. Sowing should be done in autumn.
It can also multiply by division in autumn or immediately after flowering. However, it is a short-lived perennial and multiplication by division makes little sense.

Customs and Traditions –
Pansy is a plant known by many names, also depending on the area where it grows, and some names are special such as: Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, used in some parts of Italy.
This plant is common almost everywhere on the Eurasian continent, near the sea or inland, at altitudes between 0 and 2,700 meters.
According to Roman mythology, this plant transformed from love to idleness when Cupid shot one of his arrows at the devout imperial. Since Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love, the juice of the flower has received the characteristic of acting as a love potion. Its name refers to the use of the flower, as it is often used for acts of laziness or cowardice.
According to Greek mythology, however, Zeus fell in love with a young woman named Io and caused jealousy in his wife Hera. He turned the girl into a heifer and grazed her at her feet. Out of pity for the diet of herbs to which he subjected his beloved, he made the earth produce beautiful flowers which he called Io. Another Greek legend has it that the delicate white flowers were worshiped by Eros. To inhibit this cult, Aphrodite colored them, which led to the tricolor coloring.
The ancient Greeks and Chinese used it as medicine, and Celts and Romans made perfumes from it.
As some of its names suggest, Viola tricolor has a long history of use in herbal medicine and folk medicine, both for epilepsy, skin diseases and eczema, and for respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma and cold symptoms.
In general it is a plant that has been used for both food, medicinal and other purposes.
In the food field, young leaves and flower buds are used, raw or cooked. When added to soups, they thicken them in much the same way as okra.
From the leaves you can make a tea.
Attractive florets are added to salads or used as a garnish.
Viola tricolor has a long history in the herbal field and was once very popular as a treatment for epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and a wide range of other ailments.
In modern herbal medicine it is used as a cleansing herb and is taken internally to treat skin disorders such as eczema.
The herb is anodyne, anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory, cardiac, emollient, purifying, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative and vulnerary.
Being an expectorant, it is used in the treatment of various chest disorders such as bronchitis and whooping cough, while its diuretic action makes it useful in the treatment of rheumatism, cystitis and difficulty in urinating.
Applied externally, it is used as an ointment for the treatment of eczema and other skin disorders and is also useful in case of rheumatism, bedwetting, etc.
The root is emetic.
From the whole plant a homeopathic remedy is obtained which is used in the treatment of skin rashes. The main uses of this remedy are for the treatment of eczema in childhood and nocturnal emission accompanied by very vivid dreams.
Among the contraindications it is reported that a decoction of the plant causes dermatitis in some people.
From a biochemical point of view the plant, especially the flowers.
Various carotenoids are extracted from it: violaxanthin, antheraxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.
The fresh plant contains about 4.40% of saponins, 10.26% of mucilage, as well as total carotenoids (8.45 mg / 100 g of vegetable product, expressed in β-carotene).
10% of its mucilages consist of glucose, galactose, arabinose and rhamnose, as well as tannins, salicylic acid and its derivatives.
Furthermore, again in the Viola tricolor, anthocyanidins and coumarins, such as umbelliferone, were also detected.
Other substances contained are aglycones: apigenin, chrysoeriol, isorhamnetina, kaempferol, luteolin, quercetin and rutin.
The extracts of the plant are antimicrobial.
Flavonoids, such as quercetin, luteolin and rutin, have been shown to be useful in the prophylaxis and treatment of cardiovascular problems, diabetes complications, inflammation, immune disorders and liver problems.
Viola tricolor is one of the many species of violet plants containing cichlotides. These small peptides have proved useful in drug development.
Many cyclotides found in Viola tricolor are cytotoxic. This feature means it could be used to treat cancers.
However, a study conducted to see the possible effects of Viola tricolor against neuroblastoma N2a cells did not show significant changes in the cells.
Among other uses it should be remembered that the flowers have also been used to make yellow, green and blue-green dyes, while the leaves can be used as litmus.

Preparation Method –
Viola tricolor is a plant that has been used for a long time both in medicine and in food.
The plant is often harvested from June to August and dried for later use.
In the food field, young leaves and flower buds are used, raw or cooked.
In the herbal field, the entire plant is used according to the needs described above.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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