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Field pansy is a native annual plant in the violet family found throughout most of North America. It is a winter annual weed that forms colonies. This plant attracts wildlife and is an early spring nectar source for bees. It is often confused with Heartsease (Johnny Jump Up) but it is not the same. Heartsease is Viola tricolor and is native to Europe.
This plant has a very small, dainty-like flower with a distinct feature, the length of the sepals. Its petals are longer than the sepals, where other varieties of viola have petals that are shorter than the sepals. They typically grow in colonies so they are easy to spot.
The field pansy flower is solitary, rising from the leaf axils on the stems. The flower has five dark veined petals, with bearded lateral petals and the lower petal typically has a yellow patch at its base. The petals are usually pale blue, however they can also be white with a slight blue tint. This is the only annual in the Violet species that self pollinates when the flower is closed. Each flower is about 1cm (½") across and has five sepals. This flower blooms mid-spring to early summer and lasts about 1½ months.
The alternate leaves are oblanceolate, or linear-oblanceolate, becoming narrow as they ascend the stems. They are up to 5cm (2") long, light to medium green, hairless, and smooth to slightly crenate along the margins. Leafy stipules up to 2.5 cm (1") long occur along the stems near the bases of the leaves.
Field pansies grow to about 15 cm (6”) tall.
These plants can be found in fields, along roadsides and other disturbed sites such as prairies, pastures. It tends to thrive in moist, sandy soils but will grow in a variety of soils. It prefers full sun but have adopted to part shade.
Leaves and flowers are edible.
American Field Pansy.
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