The scarlet pimpernel, also known as red chickweed, poorman’s barometer, shepherd’s weather glass, or shepherd’s clock, is a low growing annual plant in the family Myrsinaceae, growing in Europe, Asia and North America. The barometer or weather glass common names have their origin in the fact that the flowers close when atmospheric pressure decreases and bad weather is approaching.

The flower has been said to counteract the evil of malevolent beings and was once used as a cure for hydrophobia. The taste of the plant is acrid, and it has been reported to have killed certain birds feeding upon it. The latin name Anagallis Arvensis originates from the Greek anagelao, to laugh, because it was used for liver complaints and removed low spirits. One writer of lyrical prose noted that the flower opens at eight minutes past seven and closes at three minutes past two.

It is most well known for being the emblem of the fictional hero The Scarlet Pimpernel, who’s nickname is derived from the drawing of a small red flower with which he signs his messages. This originally European plant is generally considered a weed and is an indicator of light soils. The small red-orange flowers grow from spring until autumn.


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