Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet_Pimpernel_jpgThe name comes from the Latin “piperinella” or “little peppers” because of the fine, round, bullet-like seeds that resemble pepper seeds.  The name Shepherd’s Weather Glass was given because the flowers close at the approach of bad weather. The flower received literary fame in “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (Baroness E. Orczy, 1905): “The Scarlet Pimpernel? What a droll name! What is the Scarlet Pimpernel, Monsieur?”…“The Scarlet Pimpernel, Mademoiselle, is the name of a humble English wayside flower; but it is also the name chosen to hide the identity of the best and bravest man in all the world.”  “They say that every time a royalist escapes to England, that devil, the Public Prosecutor, receives in Paris a paper with the little flower dessinated in red upon it.” In England, the plant juice is used as a gargle.  In India, it has been used to treat gout, hydrophobia, leprosy, dropsy, epilepsy, and “mania”.  A poultice is used to treat snake bite and as a fish poison. In large doses, Scarlet Pimpernel is toxic to the livestock and to humans.

OtherCommonName:

Cure-all, Shepherd’s Weather Glass

ScientificName:

Anagallis arvensis

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Annual

PlantHeight:

Prostrate

FruitingTime:

July to September

Distribution:

Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

Early June to August

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Prostrate ~ Leaves small, opposite, entire, egg-shaped ~ Flowers red/orange or blue, starlike, 1/4 inch, in leaf axils, open only in sunlight ~ Fruits are a capsule, the top comes off as a lid or cap