This is the original Pansy, still so called in many places; it is every bit as colorful as our garden pansies, but smaller. It often escapes from plantings, and can occasionally establish itself in sidewalk cracks or vacant lots. Although it is associated with spring, it can bloom occasionally throughout the year; this plant was happily blooming at the beginning of October in a meadow in Schenley Park.
Gray (with revisions by Brainerd) describes the genus and the species:
VIOLA [Tourn.] L. VIOLET. HEART’S-EASE. Petals somewhat unequal, the lower one spurred at the base. Stamens closely surrounding the ovary, often slightly cohering with each other; the two lower bearing spurs which project into the spur of the corolla. Besides these conspicuous blossoms, which appear in spring, others are produced later, on shorter peduncles or on runners, often concealed under the leaves; these never open nor develop petals, but are fertilized in the bud and are far more fruitful than the ordinary blossoms. — The closely allied species of the same section, when growing together, often hybridize with each other, producing forms that are confusing to the student not familiar with the specific types. The hybrids commonly display characters more or less intermediate between those of the parents, and show marked vegetative vigor but greatly impaired fertility. (The ancient Latin name of the genus.)
Plants with leafy stems.
Style much enlarged upward into a globose hollow summit with a wide orifice on the lower side; stipules large, leaf-like, lyrate-pinnatifid.
V. tricolor L. (PANSY, HEART’S-EASE.) Stems angled, 1.5-8 dm. high; lower leaves roundish or cordate, upper oblong, crenate; flowers large and widely spreading, variously marked with yellow, white, and purple; capsules ovoid; seeds brown. — An escape from cultivation, rarely persisting. (Introd. from Eu.)