American Field Pansy, Field Pansy, Wild Pansy, Johnny Jump Up
Viola bicolor/Viola rafinesquei
vy (VYE)-OH-la BY-kul-ur/raf-in-ess-kee-eye (?)
Synonyms of Viola bicolor or Viola rafinesquei (5) (Updated on 6-14-21 from Plants of the World Online): Mnemion rafinesquei (Greene) Nieuwl., Mnemion tenellum Webb, Viola kitaibeliana var. rafinesquei (Greene) Fernald, Viola rafinesquei f. minor Moldenke. Obviously, either Viola bicolor OR Viola rafinesquei will be on the list of synonyms depending on which website you visit.
Viola bicolor Pursh is the correct and accepted scientific name for the American Field Pansy on most websites and databases. It was named and described as such by Frederick Traugott Pursh in Flora Americae Septentrionalis in 1813.
Normally, or should I say usually, whoever names the species first gets the credit. However, in this case, Viola bicolor was first named and described by Georg Franz Hoffman in Deutschlands Flora oder Botanisches Taschenbuch in 1804. So, why isn’t Mr. Hoffman cited as the original author of this species? Sounds like someone goofed! Well, Mr. Hoffman’s Viola bicolor was apparently Carl Linnaeus’s Viola tricolor from 1753. Or was it? I read through the original publication (page 170) and I didn’t even see the name Viola bicolor… The book isn’t written in English, but the species name would still be in Latin (?). Either way, Viola bicolor Hoffm. is listed as a synonym of Viola tricolor L…………. Supposedly, sometimes Viola tricolor produces flowers with two colors instead of three so how would you know if you are looking at a bicolor or a tricolor with two colors? Do they think Mr. Hoffman can’t tell the difference between two and three colors? Sometimes taxonomy is weird and it isn’t like you can just ask the guy. Well, besides the flowers, I am sure there are other features that separate Viola bicolor (Pursch) from Viola tricolor (L.).
Plants of the World Online currently lists Viola rafinesquei Greene as the accepted scientific name and lists Viola bicolor Pursh as a synonym. “Most” other websites and databases say the opposite. It was named and described as such by Edward Lee Greene in Pittonia in 1899. Since Viola bicolor was named first, I am sticking with it for now. I sent the senior editor of Kew an email and he said “they are correct.” Hmmm… I sent a follow-up reply verifying what he meant by “they” since I had mentioned other sites saying Viola bicolor was the accepted name. His reply was, “POWO is definitely correct.” I am leaving both names for the time being to see who wins by the next update (s). Maybe they will lump both Viola bicolor and Viola tricolor together and call the species V. rafinesquei and say it is a variable species… Now I have a headache… NORMALLY, Plants of the World will be the first to apply a name change then others will follow. To read why POWO is sticking with Viola rafinesquei, you can click HERE to read Mr. Greene’s original description on page 9 in Pittonia via BHL (Bioheritage Library).
The genus, Viola L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists 650 species in the Viola genus (as of 6-13-21 when I wrote this page). It is a member of the plant family Violaceae with a total of 25 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made by POWO.
The above distribution map for Viola bicolor of from the USDA Plants Database. Areas in green are where the species is native and orange where it is both native and introduced. The map on Plants of the World Online for Viola rafinesquei (Syn. Viola bicolor Pursh) is somewhat different at the time I wrote this page. Of course, the species could be more widespread or may not even be present in some states as some of the data is very old.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations and hopefully are agreed upon to become research grade. With this species, I noticed several observations from other countries that are “likely” not Viola bicolor/V. rafinesquei.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I found this Viola species in an area where hay had been previously stored on my farm in 2020. I identified it as Viola bicolor and it became Research Grade on iNaturalist. The leaves match Viola bicolor Pursh on Missouri Plants so they were a deciding feature for me. Then, when I wrote this page, I saw where Plants of the World Online listed to different Viola bicolor named by two different botanists. The one here, Viola bicolor Pursh became is listed as a synonym of Viola rafinesquei Greene and Viola bicolor Hoffm. became a synonym of Viola bicolor L. The problem is, both species are quite similar and sometimes Viola tricolor produces bi-colored flowers. I had intended to get more close-up shots of the flowers in 2021 but my camera had been acting up and time went by. It was too late to take more photos by the time I bought a new camera. Another reason I am sticking with Viola bicolor/rafinesquei is that Missouri Plants says Viola tricolor is rare in Missouri. OH, Viola bicolor is also native to Missouri, while Viola tricolor is an introduced species.
I apologize for not writing descriptions at the moment, but I have A LOT of wildflower pages to make and publish before I start getting too busy. I update this site and add new pages over the winter but I didn’t get finished. SO, I decided to just make the page with photos and links to other sites for better plant ID. I will be taking more photos over the summer and posting but I will also be working on these pages as I have time.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 100 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX
(Viola/V. bicolor Pursh/V. rafinesquei Greene)
TROPICOS (GENUS/V. bicolor Pursh/V. rafinesquei Greene)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/V. bicolor)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-WEED ID GUIDE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NATIVE PLANTS OF THE CAROLINAS AND GEORGIA
THE PRARIE ECOLOGIST
EAT THE WEEDS
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates (and if they update their sources or even read what they say). Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂