Pansies have been bred in a rainbow of colours, ranging from gold and orange though to purple, violet, and a blue so deep as to be almost black. They are quite a hardy plant, growing well in sunny positions. Under good conditions, pansies and viola are perennial plants, although they are generally treated as annual or bi-annual plants because they get very leggy and overgrown after a few years. The mature plant grows to 9 inches (23 cm) high, and the flowers are two to three inches (about 6 cm) in diameter.
A smaller version of the pansy is the viola or Johnny jump up.
The Pansy has long been a symbol of Freethought and has been used in literature of the American Secular Union. The pansy gets its name from the French word pensée meaning "thought". It was so named because the flower resembles a human face and in August it nods forward as if deep in thought. Humanists like the symbol also, as the pansy's current appearance was developed from the Johnny jump up by two centuries of intentional cross-breeding of wild plant hybrids.