Anagallis arvensis  L.


=Anagallis arvensis var. arvensis


Primulaceae (Primrose Family)




Scarlet Pimpernel 

                                       April Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Glabrous diffusely branched annual, the stems, 1-2.5 dm. long; lf. blades ovate to oval, sessile, 0.5-2 cm. long; pedicels slender, 1-3 cm. long; calyx-lobes lanceolate, 3-5 mm. long 4-5 parted; corolla rotate, mostly salmon, sometimes blue, 8-10 mm. across; stamens 4-5; caps. 3-4 mm. long; seed 1 mm. long, triangular, dark, finely pitted.


Habitat:  Common weed at low elevs., generally below 1000 m.; to Atlantic Coast.  March-July.


Name:  Anagallis is composed of two Greek words meaning "again" and "to delight in" since the flowers open each time the sun strikes them.  Arvensis means "of the fields." (Dale 162).


General:  Common in the study area.  Photographed along Back Bay Dr. in Big Canyon, and along Back Bay Dr. at the north end of Eastbluff.  (my comments).      The flowers close at nightfall or even in cloudy weather.  For this reason it has a number of descriptively amusing common names in England, such as Poor Man's Weather Glass, Wink-a-peep and John-go-to-bed-at-noon.  The plant contains an acrid poison and was used medicinally as a remedy for plague, gout, convulsions and hydrophobia in ancient times.  (Dale 162).      Parson's book, The Wild Flowers of California, published in 1909, contains almost the exact wording used by Dale for this and several other plants.  (my comment).      The entire plant is toxic and contains a triterpenoid saponin, glycoside and cyclamin.  When eaten by humans, it causes intense headache and nausea with body pains for 24 hours.  In quantity it can be narcotic.  (Fuller 210).      The leaves may cause an irritation to the skin.  (James 88).             Anagallis arvensis var. arvensis and A. arvensis var. coerulea have been combined into Anagallis arvensis in the 1993 Jepson Manual.  I have continued to keep the two varieties separated. (my comment).


Text Ref:  Munz, Calif. Flora 404; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 717; Roberts 35.

Photo Ref: April 3 83 # 9,10; April 2 84 # 2; April-May 86 # 6.

Identity: by Robert De Ruff.

First Found:  April 1983.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 265.

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 5/20/05.


                                  April Photo                                                                             April Photo