Flora Pittsburghensis.

Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)

Scarlet PimpernelPhotographed June 10.

Also classified in the genus Lysimachia. These are unmistakable flowers, little bursts of scarlet popping out of sidewalk cracks and dry banks. They open only in fine weather and close, apparently in response to a drop in barometric pressure, if a storm is coming: thus another common name, “Poor Man’s Weatherglass.” Baroness Orczy’s crusading fop took his name from these flowers.

There are color variants, including a striking deep blue that we have not found around here.

Anagallis arvensis

Botanists transferred this genus, along with Lysimachia and a number of others, to a new family Myrsinaceae. Then they transferred the whole family Myrsinaceae back into Primulaceae. This seems inefficient, but it gives botanists a hobby.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

ANAGÁLLIS [Tourn.] L. PIMPERNEL. Corolla wheel-shaped, with almost no tube; the divisions broad. Stamens 5; filaments bearded. Capsule membranaceous, many-seeded. — Low spreading or procumbent herbs, mostly annuals, with opposite or whorled entire leaves, and solitary flowers on axillary peduncles. (The ancient Greek name, probably from ana, again, and agallein, to delight in.)

A. ARVÉNSIS L. (COMMON P.) Leaves ovate, sessile, shorter than the peduncles; petals obovate, obtuse, fringed with minute teeth and stalked glands. — Waste sandy fields. June-Aug. — Flowers variable in size, scarlet or white, quickly closing at the approach of bad weather; whence the English popular name of “Poor Man’s Weatherglass.” (Nat. from Eu.) Var. CAERULEA (Schreb.) Ledeb. Petals blue, often nearly or quite destitute of glandular ciliation. — Cultivated ground, etc., rather rare. (Adv. from Eurasia.)

Anagallis arvensis

Family Primulaceae (Primrose Family) | Index of Families