The pansy or pansy violets are a large group of hybrid plants cultivated as garden flowers. Pansies are derived from Viola species Viola tricolor hybridized with other viola species, these hybrids are referred to as Viola × wittrockiana or less commonly Viola tricolor hortensis. The name "pansy" also appears as part of the common name for other Viola species that are wildflowers in Europe. Some unrelated species, such as the Pansy Monkeyflower, also have "pansy" in their name.
Although early experimental crosses using the common un-colored "Johnny-jump-up" or "Pied Heart's-Ease" (Viola tricolor) a pretty weed of grain fields and hedgerows, were also being made by William Richard, gardener to Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet (1785–1861), daughter of the Earl of Tankerville, at Walton-on-Thames. The modern garden pansy had its origin in the Iver, Buckinghamshire, estate of James, Lord Gambier, whose gardener William Thompson began about 1813 crossing various viola species with Viola tricolor. A yellow viola, V. lutea, and a wide-petalled pale yellow species of Russian origin, V. altaica were among the crosses that began the new hybrids, today classed as Viola x Wittrockiana. A round flower of overlapping petals was an early aim of Robinson's trials; in the late 1830s he found a chance sport that no longer had narrow nectar guides of dark color on the petals but a broad dark blotch on the petals, which came to be called the "face." Developed in Gambier's garden and released to the public in 1839 with the name "Medora," this pansy and its progeny, including "Victoria," rapidly became popular with gardeners and breeders throughout Europe.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansy
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