"The Scarlet Pimpernel" Reader's GuidePage 5
ANAGALLIS ARVENSIS (Latin for Adornment of the Field)
Anagallis arvensis, known in our story as the scarlet pimpernel, is a tiny, low growing or creeping annual plant considered by many to be a highly invasive weed. The scarlet pimpernel is sometimes referred to as the blue-scarlet pimpernel, red pimpernel, red chickweed, poor man’s barometer, poor man’s weather-glass, shepherd’s weather glass, or shepherd’s clock.
Although generally referred to as a scarlet, the color of the flower may be red, deep peach, lilac, white, or azure blue. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. The flowers close at midday, and also close quickly if the sky becomes cloudy or if rain is approaching. The flower is five petaled with lollipop shaped hairs on its stamens which attract a wide variety of pollinators. The flowers are also capable of self-pollination.
Those insects which are not attracted to the scarlet pimpernel are often repelled. Its oils are sometimes used in homeopathic recipes for insect repellent. However, it should be used with great care. People with sensitive skin can get a reaction from simply touching the plant. Ingestion by horses and dogs has been known to cause twenty-four hours of extreme intestinal pain. If consumed in large enough quantities, it can kill.