Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The California Golden Violet

The Yellow Pansy (Viola pedunculata) is a common and attractive wildflower of coastal regions of California and Baja California. It is also known as the California Golden Violet, or as the Johnny Jump Up, though the latter name is more usually associated with the introduced Heartsease, Viola tricolor.

The Yellow Pansy grows on open, grassy slopes, chaparral, and in oak woodlands, from sea level to around 1000 metres. It is a perennial, growing from a spongy rhizome. The leaves are 1-5.5 cm, cordate (heart-shaped) to deltate-ovate (oblong-triangular), scalloped or toothed, and glabrous or hairy. The plant is often low-growing, but can reach heights of up to 40cm. The flowers appear in March and April, and are always yellow. They are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. Dried in air, the seeds weigh about 4mg each.

The leaves were used by the Diegueno and Luiseno people for food: the young leaves were picked before the flowers appear in the spring, boiled, and used as greens. The flower buds can also be eaten, though like other yellow flowers of the genus Viola, in large quantities they can cause diarrhoea. A tisane can be made from the leaves.

The plant is sometimes grown in gardens outside its natural range, for example in Britain, where it flowers in May. However it is not very hardy, and is best propagated in a cold frame.


See also: Flowers, Send Flowers, Flower Delivery

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