Scarlet Pimpernel

Common name: Scarlet Pimpernel

Scientific name: Anagallis arvensis
Family: Primulaceae (primrose)
Habitat: wet grassland
Size: plant up to 16 inches tall; flower 7 to 11 mm across

Fun facts: A little weed common in gardens and waste places. The genus name (Anagallis) means “amusing” in Greek.

Description: Member of the primrose family. The stems are smooth and square. The plant usually has many branches and is sprawling. Each flower has five sepals, five petals and five stamens. The seeds mature in a round ovary that opens by the top coming off like the lid of a jar.

These are the only salmon (yellowish pink) colored flowers to be found at Mather Field. Chaffweed (Centunculus minimus) has very similar stems and leaves, but the flowers are much smaller (1 to 3 mm) and have white petals.

Life cycle: Scarlet Pimpernel is an annual. It can germinate almost any time of the year. Depending upon location and moisture, it blooms from March to September.

Ecology: Scarlet Pimpernel is not native to California. It came from Europe and was probably accidentally brought here by early settlers. The plant is toxic to both humans and animals. The flowers open every day in the sunshine and close again at night.