Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet pimpernel blooming in Pittsburgh, 9 June 2019 (photo by Kate St. John)

Early this month I found scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) blooming in my city neighborhood. It’s not just a book, it’s a tiny orange-red flower.

Originally from Europe, Western Asia and North Africa the plant is hardy and sometimes invasive. It doesn’t mind growing next to salted roads so it has a lot of habitat in Pittsburgh. This one was growing in a crack in the sidewalk.

When I picked it I didn’t know that the plant is mildly toxic. For some people the leaves cause dermatitis. Fortunately they didn’t affect me.

Scarlet pimpernel is sometimes called poor man’s barometer because the flowers close at night and don’t bother to open on overcast days.

We haven’t had many clouds this summer so you should have no problem finding scarlet pimpernel blooming by a road near you.

(photos by Kate St. John)

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