Common Names: Johnny-Jump-Up, Heartsease, Wild Pansy, Ladies' Delight, Jump-Up-And-Kiss-Me

Thomas Jefferson recorded sowing seeds of "Tricolor" at Shadwell, his boyhood home, on April 2, 1767.1 The plant was grown in American gardens before 1700, although the first known documented citation is by John Lawson in his History of Carolina (1718).2

Native over large areas of Europe and western Asia, this ancestor of our modern pansy has many common names, including wild pansy, ladies' delight, and jump-up-and-kiss-me. The name "pansy" derives from the French word pensée, an association used by Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "and there is pansies, that's for thoughts."3 Darker forms, including types with nearly black petals, such as "Black Violet" and "Bowle's Black," were selected by the late 19th century.

Viola tricolor is a hardy, spring-flowering perennial grown as an annual with charming, pansy-like flowers showing three colors in shades of purple, yellow, and white.

Further Sources


1.Garden Book, 1766-1824, page 2, by Thomas Jefferson [electronic edition], Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2003). See also Betts, Garden Book, 4.

2.Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 232. See John Lawson, The History of Carolina: Containing the Exact Description and Natural History of That Country ... Etc. (London: Warner, 1718).

3.Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V.