Scarlet Pimpernel

Macro shot of a scarlet pimpernel (anagallis arvensis) flower in bloom

In the middle of summer, the scarlet pimpernel with its bright red or orange star-shaped flowers often flashes at you in the vegetable patch. It seems far too pretty to be simply pulled out as a weed.

As decorative as it looks, it is believed to have all kinds of healing powers, but the field pimpernel is slightly poisonous and may therefore only be used in very small quantities. Well dosed it can help against warts and splinters in the skin.

Plant description

Scarlet pimpernel grows as a weed in gardens and fields, on fallow land and vineyards. With its low-lying stems, which grow up to 25 cm long, the field pimpernel is one of the smaller plants. The small, egg-shaped leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stem.

Its orange-red or blue, star-shaped flowers shine like funny little eyes, making it difficult to pull the plant out as a weed. One would much rather leave it as an ornamental plant.


Scientific name
Anagallis arvensis or Lysimachia arvensis.

Plant family

Other names
Blue-scarlet pimpernel, red pimpernel, red chickweed, poor man’s barometer, poor man’s weather-glass, shepherd’s weather glass, shepherd’s clock.

Used plant parts

Saponins, bitter substances, tanning agents, flavonoids.

Harvest period
June to October.

Medicinal properties

Main use: Skin.

Healing effects

      • Wounds
      • Toothache
      • Sinusitis
      • Kidney stones
      • Constipation
      • Warts
      • Analgesic

Application methods

      • Orally
      • Topically

Forms of preparation

Attention! Scarlet pimpernel is slightly poisonous. It should be used with care, only in small doses and only in ready-to-use preparations, homeopathic or external.

Internal use

It can be used as part of a mixed tea or juice. Only people with scarlet pimpernel allergy get a rash on contact with the plant. All others can try the juice of the pimpernel for warts.

External use

Applied as a compress, the infusion can clean wounds and expel penetrating splinters or thorns. For sinusitis or kidney stones, you should only use the remedy in low doses and mixed with other herbs.


Anagallis_arvensis (Wikipedia)

Scarlet pimpernel
Flowers March 2008-19.jpg
Scientific classification edit
A. arvensis
Binomial name
Anagallis arvensis

Lysimachia arvensis (L.) U.Manns & Anderb.

Azure-blue Anagallis arvensis, a blue form

Anagallis arvensis (syn. Lysimachia arvensis), commonly known as the scarlet pimpernel, red pimpernel, red chickweed, poor man's barometer, poor man's weather-glass, shepherd's weather glass or shepherd's clock, is a species of low-growing annual plant with brightly coloured flowers, most often scarlet but also bright blue and sometimes pink. The native range of the species is Europe and Western Asia and North Africa. The species has been distributed widely by humans, either deliberately as an ornamental flower or accidentally. A. arvensis is now naturalised almost worldwide, with a range that encompasses the Americas, Central and East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Malesia, the Pacific Islands, Australasia and Southern Africa.

Traditionally included in the primrose family Primulaceae, the genus Anagallis was placed in the family Myrsinaceae until that family in turn was included in Primulaceae in the APG III system. The genus Anagallis is included in Lysimachia by some authors.

This common European plant is generally considered a weed and is an indicator of light soils, though it grows opportunistically in clay soils as well. The origin of the name pimpernel comes from late Middle English pympernele [1400–50], derived from Middle French pimprenelle, from Old French piprenelle, and ultimately from Vulgar Latin *piperīnella (piper 'pepper' + -īn- '-ine' + -ella diminutive suffix).

The flower serves as the emblem of the fictional hero the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Scarlet Pimpernel (Wiktionary)



scarlet pimpernel (plural scarlet pimpernels)

  1. (botany) A flowering plant, Anagallis arvensis, of the Primulaceae family, having small orange flowers.


Further reading

  • scarlet pimpernel on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
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