difference between violet and pansy?

appletreasure(zn 3)June 24, 2003


One of the great mysteries I have pondered for some time is what is the difference between pansy, violet, and even viola? I believe what we call African Violet is a different family. I am referring to the outdoor beauties.

Looking forward to clearing up this up. Thanks,


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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

Me, too, Laurie!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2003 at 4:14PM
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Jill_Ann_Williams(Baltimore, MD)

Hello Friends,

A very good question!

1. Yes, African Violets are of the Genus- SAINTPAULIA
2. Violets, Viola, Pansies are of the Genus - VIOLA
3. Attached is a link which gives some history concerning Pansies. The link is from the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. This is an introduction to the subject.
4. Perhaps some of our knowledgeable Viola horticulturists will share their information with us.

Here is a link that might be useful: Viola-Pansy

    Bookmark   June 25, 2003 at 6:40AM
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John_Snocken(United Kingdom)

Dear Laurie
I will try and clear the muddied waters as far as the Pansy and viola are concerned.Within the genus Viola the Pansy and Viola are in the Melanium section.In the National Viola and Pansy Society we try and kep things simple.Thus we say that a Pansy must have a blotch.That is a consolidation of the rays that forms the dark velvety face of the bloom.The Viola on the otherhand may have some rays,but theses should not be so thick as to form a blotch.
Unfortunately the commercial world does not see it this way so they produce many pansies without a blotch.This all adds to the confusion.So lets have a little history.
At the start of the 19th Century the wild species began to be cultivated and hybridized.Viola Tricolour,the Heartsease or wild pansy was formost amonst the species used.At this time every new variety was a Pansy.The blooms began to get bigger,and the Blotch appeared as a chance seedling in the 1840s.Still everything was called a pansy.
The habit of al these news sorts remained as srtagling as the species.But by the 1860s efforts had ben made to produce much more compact plants.As it happened none of these had a blotch and they got themselves called Violas.Now people of influence such as william Robinson tried to get this new type called Tufted Pansies,as he quite rightly pointed out Viola is the genus name.However the general public would not accept the tufted so it remained Viola.From then on there has been much confusion.Genetically they are the same and each will cross with the other,many garden varities available today are the result of such crosses.Towards the end of the 19th century a Dr Charles Stuart came up with a new race of hybrids that called Violettas.. but that it another story.
If you care to see some illustrations of that which I have written about go to www.nvps.org.uk which is the website of the national viola and pansy society.
A bit of an essay but I hope it is of some help.
John Snocken

    Bookmark   June 26, 2003 at 4:21PM
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Mike Hardman(Cyprus, 100m altitude)


Also have a look at my text and photos at the link below, where I try to separate violets from pansies (pansies in a broad sense, including tufted violas and violettas as John just discussed).


Here is a link that might be useful: Violet Society Journal - Summer 2001 - p8

    Bookmark   June 27, 2003 at 8:53PM
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naprous(Vermont z4)

And where do Johnny Jump-Ups fit in? I'm blessed with a lot of them here.

And yet another question, are all violas edible? I've been putting the Johnny Jump-Ups in my salad, but wasn't so sure about the pansies.



    Bookmark   July 7, 2003 at 6:42PM
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Mike Hardman(Cyprus, 100m altitude)


Johnny Jump-Ups are V. tricolor, and its cultivars; the term is also sometimes applied to similar species such as V. bicolor. As John mentions above, V. tricolor has its blood in pansies, and I would imagine they all taste much the same. As far as I know, all species and cultivars of Viola are edible, though everything in moderation -- to much and one property or another would make itself evident (laxative, purgative, etc.), methinks!


    Bookmark   July 7, 2003 at 7:13PM
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