Pimpernel, Scarlet

Information on Scarlet Pimpernel

Common Name: Scarlet Pimpernel
Scientific Name: Anagallis arvensis
Irish Name: Falcaire fiáin
Family Group: Primulaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Scarlet Pimpernel is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Scarlet Pimpernel is a prostrate annual with pale scarlet flowers which bloom from May to October.   Each little flower (10-15mm across) consists of five overlapping petals which have hairy margins. The shiny, oval shaped leaves grow in pairs along the straggling, square stems and have little black dots on their underside.  The fruits in autumn develop into little capsules full of tiny seeds, which when ripe, are tossed about into the breeze when the top half of the capsule becomes detached.  The plant is a weed of cultivation and is often found on waste ground and light soils.  On occasions, the flower colour can be pink, lilac or blue. There is also a subsp. Anagallis arvensis ssp. foemina which is blue and on which the petal edges are hairless. Scarlet Pimpernel is a native plant belonging to the family Primulaceae.   

I first found this wildflower in Roundwood, Co Wicklow in 1976 and photographed it in Gibletstown, Co Wexford in 2005. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

A notable feature of this plant is that the flower opens in sunshine and closes when the weather begins to deteriorate, that is, when atmospheric pressure decreases.   In good weather it usually opens up early in the morning, the petals closing over sometime in the early afternoon.  For these reasons it was known in some parts as Poor-man's Barometer and Shepherd's Weather Glass.

Baroness Orczy's classic play and adventure novel first produced in 1903 concerned the activities of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  In the play, this secret society was formed by English aristocrats at the time of the French Revolution and its aim was to rescue French aristocrats from execution.  The leader of this League, Sir Percy Blakeney, whose identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel was unknown to all but the society, (even to his wife), always signed his messages with a little drawing of a small red flower.   

Pimpernel, Scarlet
Pimpernel, Scarlet
Pimpernel, Scarlet
Pimpernel, Scarlet