SCARLET PIMPERNEL

POOR MANS WEATHERGLASS

Anagallis arvensis

Myrsine Family [Myrsinaceae]  
Formerly in: Primrose Family [Primulaceae]

month8May month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept month8Oct

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8red
inner
inner8purple
inner
inner8cream inner8yellow
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8square
toxicity
toxicityZmedium

28th May 2012, Penrhyn Bay, under Little Orme, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Sprawling and prostrate.


28th May 2012, Penrhyn Bay, under Little Orme, North Wales. Photo: © RWD


7th June 2005, Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Sefton Coastal Path. Photo: © RWD
Sprawling and prostrate.


7th June 2005, Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Sefton Coastal Path. Photo: © RWD
The scarlet flowers open only when the sun is shining.


7th June 2005, Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Sefton Coastal Path. Photo: © RWD



5 Aug 2004, Cartmel, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The stem terminates in a cluster of smaller and smaller leaves. The leaves are either in whorls (of 3 or 4) up the stem ...


18th June 2015, disused quarry, Little Orme, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Flowers emerge in opposite pairs on long stalks in the uppermost axils of the paired leaves. The leaves appear to be perfoliate (totally surrounding the stem) but are in fact amplexicaul (abutting each other with just the slightest of gaps between them).


31st May 2007, Dalton Zoo, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Or are oppositely paired, alternately at right-angles up the square stems.


13th Sept 2015, East Lancs Rd, Worsley, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Or in whorls of three or four leaves up the stem. Here in whorls of 3. The number of flowers emerging from the leaf axils mirrors the number of leaves there, one flower per leaf.


3rd Sept, Delamere, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD


31st May 2007, Dalton Zoo, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Five petals, five stamens, and a purple-tinged central portion.


6th Sept 2015, East Lancs Rd, Worsley, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Five pointed sepals slightly shorter than the petals.


6th Sept 2015, East Lancs Rd, Worsley, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The five stamens are white at the bottom and magenta at the top, as is the central lone style. The filaments of the stamens are covered in translucent beaded concolorous hairs and tipped by bright yellow anthers. The style is tipped by a bright yellow disc-shaped stigma.


13th Sept 2015, East Lancs Rd, Worsley, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The heavier fruits tend to droop down. They have a long and narrow remnant style.


13th Sept 2015, East Lancs Rd, Worsley, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Fruit has persistent style, alas here broken and bent. Five tapered sepals with wide semi-translucent margins.


13th Sept 2015, East Lancs Rd, Worsley, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Fruit spherical with 5 segments.


A blue form also exists.

Unlike the round stems of Bog Pimpernel, Scarlet Pimpernel has square stems, as does the similar, but un-related, Creeping Jenny.

Not to be confused with: 'Poor Man's Asparagus' [a plant with similar nickname].

CUCURBATICINS & their GLYCOSIDES, ARVENINS


All parts of Scarlet Pimpernel are poisonous, containing the Cucurbitacins, Arvenin I, Arvenin II, Arvenin III and Arvenin IV and Cucurbitacin B as well as triterpene saponins and oxalates. All Arvenins are glucopyranosides. Cucurbaticins bind to microtubules and are therefore cytotoxic. All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the roots, and consumption of it can result in gastrointestinal disturbances, trembling and kidney damage.

Related to the Cucurbaticins (of which Cucurbaticin B is just one) are the Arvenins, of which four are know, Arvenin I, Arvenin II, Arvenin III and Arvenin IV. Shown is just one, Arvenin I. Arvenin I is just Cucurbaticin B with a glycoside attached. The same poisons are also in White Bryony.

ANTHOCYANINS

Whereas the petals of the blue version of Scarlet Pimpernel (Blue Pimpernel) contains crystals of the blue-purple anthocyanin Malvidin-3-Rhamnoside those of the red version contain the red anthocyanin Delphinidin, although other possibly more reliable sources say that they contains a mixture of several anthocyanins: Callistephin (aka Pelargonidin-3-O-βGlucopyranoside), Oenin (aka Malvidin-3-O-βGlucopyranoside) as well as the blue-purple Malvidin-3-Rhamnoside in various proportions (after all, the petals do tend towards purple in the centre, and are not uniformly pigmented).

  Callistephin, chemically Pelargonidin-3-O-β-Glucopyranoside, is another of the red anthocyanins found in Scarlet Pimpernel (and in Strawberries, in Purple Corn (aka Purple Maize) and in the skins of those Grapes used to brew the red wines Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

  Oenin, chemically Malvidin-3-O-β-Glucopyranoside, is one of the red-purple anthocyanins found in the flowers (petals) of Scarlet Pimpernel (and in the skin of Grapes)

  Malvinidin-3-Rhamnoside is a blue anthocyanin and occurs in greater concentrations in Blue Pimpernel which possesses far less (if any) of the other two anthocyanins above.


  Anagallis arvensis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Myrsinaceae  

Distribution
family8myrsine family8Myrsinaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Anagallis
Anagallis
(Pimpernels)

SCARLET PIMPERNEL

POOR MANS WEATHERGLASS

Anagallis arvensis

Myrsine Family [Myrsinaceae]  
Formerly in: Primrose Family [Primulaceae]

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