Viola tricolor, known as heartsease, heart's ease, heart's delight, tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, or love-in-idleness, is a common European wild flower, growing as an annual or short-lived perennial. It has been introduced into North America, where it has spread widely, and is known as the johnny jump up (though this name is also applied to similar species such as the yellow pansy). It is the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, and is therefore sometimes called wild pansy; before the cultivated pansies were developed, "pansy" was an alternative name for the wild form.
V. tricolor is a small plant of creeping and ramping habit, reaching at most 15 cm in height, with flowers about 1.5 cm in diameter. It grows in short grassland on farms and wasteland, chiefly on acid or neutral soils. It is usually found in partial shade. It flowers from April to September. The flowers can be purple, blue, yellow or white. They are hermaphrodite and self-fertile, pollinated by bees.
As its name implies, heartsease has a long history of use in herbalism. It has been recommended, among other uses, for epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and eczema. V. tricolor has a history in folk medicine of helping respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and cold symptoms. It has expectorant properties, and so has been used in the treatment of chest complaints such as bronchitis and whooping cough.[medical citation needed] It is also a diuretic, leading to its use in treating rheumatism and cystitis.
Long before cultivated pansies were released into the trade in 1839, V. tricolor was associated with thought in the "language of flowers", often by its alternative name of pansy (from the French "pensée" - thought): hence Ophelia's often quoted line in Shakespeare's Hamlet, "There's pansies, that's for thoughts". What Shakespeare had in mind was V. tricolor, not a modern garden pansy.
Shakespeare makes a more direct reference, probably to V. tricolor in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Oberon sends Puck to gather "a little western flower" that maidens call "love-in-idleness". Oberon's account is that he diverted an arrow from Cupid's bow aimed at "a fair vestal, throned by the west" (supposedly Queen Elizabeth I) to fall upon the plant "before milk-white, now purple with love's wound". The "imperial vot'ress" passes on "fancy-free", destined never to fall in love. The juice of the heartsease now, claims Oberon, "on sleeping eyelids laid, Will make or man or woman madly dote Upon the next live creature that it sees." Equipped with such powers, Oberon and Puck control the fates of various characters in the play to provide Shakespeare's essential dramatic and comic structure for the play.
V. tricolor is one of many viola plant species containing cyclotides. These small peptides have proven to be useful in drug development due to their size and structure giving rise to high stability. Many cyclotides, found in Viola tricolor are cytotoxic. This feature means that it could be used to treat cancers.
The fresh plant Viola declinata and V. tricolor contain approximately
- saponins (4.40%),
- mucilages (10.26%),
- total carotenoids(8.45 mg/100g vegetal product, expressed in β-carotene).
See also 
- Love-in-idleness — literary name for same plant
- Viola arvensis — species also sometimes called "heartsease"
- Viola lutea — species also sometimes called "heartsease"
- Viola ocellata — species also sometimes called "heartsease"
- Heartsease Maude Grieve
- It can hoist itself as much as a meter into a dense tangle of other growth.
- Maude Grieve, http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hearts10.html
- Rimkiene S. Ragazinskiene O. Savickiene N. ,"The cumulation of Wild pansy (Viola tricolor L.) accessions: the possibility of species preservation and usage in medicine." Medicina (Kaunas) 39(4):411-6, 2003.
- Toiu A. Muntean E. Oniga I. Vostinaru O. Tamas M. " Pharmacognostic research on Viola tricolor L. (Violaceae)." Revista Medico-Chirurgicala a Societatii de Medici Si Naturalisti Din Iasi. 113(1):264-7, 2009 Jan-Mar.
- The other candidate is "Love-in-a-Mist" or Nigella, a common garden plant of Shakespeare's day, varying in colour from white through pinks to an almost true blue (suggested, e.g. by Dr Henry Bull, "Love in Idleness (Nigella)" in Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club 1883-85 (1890), pp 61ff.
- Tang J., Wang C.K., Pan X., Yan H., Zeng G., Xu W., He W., Daly N.L., Craik D.J., Tan N."Isolation and characterization of cytotoxic cyclotides from Viola tricolor" Peptides 2010 31:8 (1434-1440)
- Erika Svangård, Ulf Göransson, Zozan Hocaoglu, Joachim Gullbo, Rolf Larsson,, Per Claeson and Lars Bohlin, 2004. "Cytotoxic Cyclotides from Viola tricolor" Journal of Natural Products 67 (2), 144-147
- Tang J., Wang C.K., Pan X., Yan H., Zeng G., Xu W., He W., Daly N.L., Craik D.J., Tan N. ,"Isolation and characterization of cytotoxic cyclotides from Viola tricolor", Peptides 2010 31:8 (1434-1440)
- Witkowska-Banaszczak E., Bylka W., Matławska I., Goślińska O., Muszyński Z. ,"Antimicrobial activity of Viola tricolor herb". Fitoterapia 2005 76:5 (458-461)
- Witkowska-Banaszczak E. Bylka W. Matlawska I. Goslinska O. Muszynski Z."Antimicrobial activity of Viola tricolor herb". Fitoterapia. 76(5):458-61, 2005 Jul.
- Toiu A. Parvu AE. Oniga I. Tamas M."Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of alcoholic extract from Viola tricolor.", Revista Medico-Chirurgicala a Societatii de Medici Si Naturalisti Din Iasi. 111(2):525-9, 2007 Apr-Jun.
- Vukics V. Kery A. Guttman A."Analysis of polar antioxidants in Heartsease (Viola tricolor L.) and Garden pansy (Viola x wittrockiana Gams.)". Journal of Chromatographic Science. 46(9):823-7, 2008 Oct.
- Vukics V. Ringer T. Kery A. Bonn GK. Guttman.,"Analysis of heartsease (Viola tricolor L.) flavonoid glycosides by micro-liquid chromatography coupled to multistage mass spectrometry." A. Journal of Chromatography. A. 1206(1):11-20, 2008 Oct 3.
- Vukics V. Toth BH. Ringer T. Ludanyi K. Kery A. Bonn GK. Guttman A.,"Quantitative and qualitative investigation of the main flavonoids in heartsease (Viola tricolor L.)". Journal of Chromatographic Science. 46(2):97-101, 2008 Feb.
- Toiu A., Muntean E., Oniga I., Tǎmaş M. "Pharmacognostic research on Viola declinata Waldst. et Kit. (Violaceae)" Farmacia 2009 57:2 (219-222)
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