Calendula, pansies, marigolds, and dandelion all brighten up salads beautifully. The trick is to pull the petals off the flower heads and just eat the petals. When pansies are candied for cakes, that’s when the whole pansy is used.
The Johnny Jump-Up Pansy
As pretty as every member I’ve met from the pansy (Viola) genus has been, I have a soft spot for Johnny Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor). These are smaller than many other pansies, and reliably have blue-purple-indigo “ears” with yellow-gold “angel body”, making them look like little bunny angels. To me.
While all pansies are tough-as-nails little flowers, enduring the cold snaps that kill uncovered tomato plants and many other garden lovelies, Johnny Jump-Ups get their name from their stunning recovery capacity.
Get a light snow? Just brush it off the Johnny Jump-Ups and they’ll be perky by noon. Get a heavier snow? If it’s just a winter teaser and melts off in a few days, a day later, there’s the Johnny Jump-Ups, gamely advertising for any bees dawdling in the area. How could I not love such fierceness? Pansies are marvelous, and Johnny’s my favorite.
Viola Genus? Does That Include Violets?
The Viola genus includes pansies, violas, violets, Johnny Jump-Ups, and several hundred hybrids. While I feel fine eating the cute little wild violets that grow in the yard, I have zero clue about the edibility of more far ranging members like Heartease.
African violets, the fuzzy darlings that grace so many kitchen window sills in temperate North America, are an entirely different genus and should NOT be eaten.
Thank you to the blog Au Naturelle for the image.