A common sight in hedgerows and on wasteground in summer, the wild pansy or heartsease grows to a height of around 40 cm. This herbaceous annual has angular, branching stems with spear-shaped, deeply indented leaves. A single, delicate flower-usually purple, yellow or white, but often a mix of all three colours-sits elegantly at the end of each long stalk.
Flower, leaves and stems
The aerial parts are gathered from heartsease from june to late august, in the early morning before the flowers have opened.
After drying quickly but gently, out of direct sunlight, the leaves, stems and flowers are all used to make infusions, powders, tinctures, extracts, capsules and syrups.
Salicylic acid and its derivatives have been identified in the aerial parts of heartsease. There are also mucilages, anthocyanosides, tannins, flavonoids and peptides.
The anti-inflammatory action of the salicylic acid in heartsease make the plant highly effective when applied on a compress to ease skin problems such as acne, eczema, impetigo and seborrhoea. Also, heartsease may be used to treat inflammation caused by rheumatism. Taken internally it can treat respiratory tract infections and its mucilage also has an expectorant effect which can be beneficial.
The plant’s anthocyanosides and flavonoids help to keep blood vessels healthy and improve the circulation. This is why it is often prescribed for arteriosclerosis and heart conditions, which could account for the plant’s name.
In addition, heartsease is known as a laxative and diuretic, helping to eliminate toxins and treat urinary tract infection. The tannins can boost immunity, and research in Norway has recently shown that the plant’s peptides can help to fight infection.
RAW OR UNTREATED HEARTSEASE CAN BE SLIGHTLY TOXIC, SO AVOID IT.
NEVER USE HEARTSEASE INTERNALLY FOR YOUNG CHILDREN.
EXCESSIVE USE OF HEARTSEASE CAN CAUSE ADVERSE SKIN REACTIONS.