Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel
Scarlet Pimpernel. Anagallis arvensis.
Myrsinaceae, the myrsine family. Formerly primulaceae, the primrose family.

Plant: Tiny orange flowers on low, creeping plants, to 12", with square stems. Annual.
Flowers: Tiny (< 1/4"), usually bright orange with red center and yellow stamens, but may also be white or blue. Five petals, minutely fringed. Solitary, on long stalks arising from leave axils.
Leaves: Small, 1/4"-1", ovate, opposite, stemless.
Blooming: Mainly June-August, extending into September and October.
Habitat: Disturbed soil, lawns, roadsides and waste areas.

Comments: An annual, introduced from Europe, this is the flower of the epinomynous Dumas character. Flowers close in cloudy weather, and reputedly when barometric pressure is dropping, giving rise to names such as poorman's barometer and shepherd's weatherglass. The leaves can be irritating, causing dermatitis is some people. Originally placed in the primrose family, the genus has recently been reclassified into the myrsine family, which contains mostly trees and shrubs, on the basis of genetic studies. A bright blue variety is considered a separate species by some botanists.

Where to find it: Widely scattered in the lawn areas on the west side of the entrance road.