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Anagallis arvensis

 

To Hear:

 

 

Anagallis arvensis, seeds, scanning electron micrograph

Anagallis arvensis

Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis; also known as red pimpernel, red chickweed, poorman’s barometer, poor man’s weather-glass,[1] shepherd’s weather glass or shepherd’s clock) is a low-growing annual plant found in Europe, Asia and North America. Scarlet pimpernel flowers are open only when the sun shines.[1]

Although traditionally included in the family Primulaceae, the genus Anagallis is now considered to be better placed within the related family Myrsinaceae.[2] In the APG III system, Primulaceae is expanded to include Myrsinaceae, thus Anagallis is in Primulaceae sensu lato.

This common European plant is generally considered a weed and is an indicator of light soils.

It is most well known for being the emblem of the fictional hero The Scarlet Pimpernel.

 

Interesting Fact:

Anagallis arvensis herb with scarlet or white or purple blossoms that close at approach of rainy weather

Etymology:

Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr. pimprenelle (It. pimpinella), either a corr. of a L. form bipennula, double-winged, dim. of bi-pennisbis, twice, penna, feather; or from a dim. of L. pampinus, a vine-leaf.
Medical Uses:

Medicinal use of Scarlet Pimpernel:

The scarlet pimpernel was at one time highly regarded as a medicinal herb, especially in the treatment of epilepsy and mental problems, but there is little evidence to support its efficacy and it is no longer recommended for internal use because it contains toxic saponins and cytotoxic cucurbitacins. The whole herb is antitussive, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, purgative, stimulant and vulnerary. It can be taken internally or applied externally as a poultice. An infusion is used in the treatment of dropsy, skin infections and disorders of the liver and gall bladder. The plant is best harvested in June and can be dried for later use. Use with caution, large doses can cause polyuria and tremor. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used internally to treat itchy skins and externally to remove warts.

Description of the plant:

Plant:

Annual

Height:

10 cm
(4 inches)

Flowering:

June to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Roadsides and cultivated land, preferring rather sandy soils.

Edible parts of Scarlet Pimpernel:

Leaves – raw or cooked. Used in salads and as a spinach. The tender shoots are cooked as a vegetable. It is best not to eat these leaves, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The squeezed plant is used in Nepal for washing and bathing.

Propagation of Scarlet Pimpernel:

Seed – sow spring in situ.

Cultivation of the herb:

Roadsides and cultivated land, preferring rather sandy soils.

Known hazards of Anagallis arvensis:

The seeds are slightly poisonous to some mammals, but no cases involving people are known. Skin contact with the plant can cause dermatitis in some people.

 

The Vesper Chime

She dwelt within a convent wall
Beside the “blue Moselle,”
And pure and simple was her life
As is the tale I tell.    She never shrank from penance rude,
And was so young and fair,
It was a holy, holy thing,
To see her at her prayer.Her cheek was very thin and pale;
You would have turned in fear,
If ‘t were not for the hectic spot
That glowed so soft and clear.And always, as the evening chime
With measured cadence fell,
Her vespers o’er, she sought alone
A little garden dell.

And when she came to us again,
She moved with lighter air;
We thought the angels ministered
To her while kneeling there.

One eve I followed on her way,
And asked her of her life.
A faint blush mantled cheek and brow,
The sign of inward strife

And when she spoke, the zephyrs caught
The words so soft and clear,
And told them over to the flowers
That bloomed in beauty near.

“I know not,” thus she said to me,
“If my young cheek is pale,
But daily do I feel within
This life of mine grow frail.

    “There is a flower that hears afar
      The coming tempest knell,
    And folds its tiny leaves in fear,–
      The scarlet Pimpernel:

“And thus my listening spirit heard
The rush of Death’s cold wing,
And tremulously folded close,
In childhood’s early Spring.

“I never knew a parent’s care,
A sister’s gentle love:
They early left this world of ours
For better lands above.

“And so I loved not earthly joys,
The merry dance and play,
But sought to commune with the stars,
And learn the wind’s wild lay.

“The pure and gentle flowers became
As sisters fair to me:
I needed no interpreter
To read their language free.

“And ‘neath the proud and grand old trees
That seemed to touch the sky,
We prayed, alike with lowly head,
The violets and I.

“And years rolled on and brought to me
But woman’s lot below,
Intensest hours of happiness,
Intensest hours of woe.

“For one there was whose word and smile
Had power to thrill my heart:
One eve the summons came for him
To battle to depart.

“And when again the setting sun
In crimson robed the west,
They bore him to his childhood’s home,–
The life-blood on his breast.

“Another day, at vesper chime,
They laid him low to sleep,
And always at that fated hour
I kneel to pray and weep.

“‘T is said the radiant stars of night,
When viewed through different air,
Appear not all in golden robes,
But various colors wear.

“And through another atmosphere,
My spirit seemed to gaze
For never more wore life to me
The hues of other days.

“Once to my soul unbidden came
A strange and fiery guest,
That soon assumed an empire there,
And never is at rest.

“It binds the chords with arm of might,
And strikes with impulse strong;
I know not whence the visitant,
But mortals call it song.

“It never pants for earthly fame,
But chants a mournful wail
For ever o’er the loved and dead,
Like wind-harps in a gale.”

She said no more, but lingered long
Upon that quiet spot,
With such a glory on her brow,
‘T will never be forgot!

Next eve at nine, for prayers we met,
And missed her from her place;
We found her sleeping with the flowers,
But Death was on her face.

We buried her, as she had asked,
Just at the vesper chime;
The sunbeams seemed to stay their flight,
So holy was the time.

I’ve heard that when the rainbow fades
From parting clouds on high,
It leaves where smiled the radiant arch
A fragrance in the sky:

It may be fantasy, I know,
But round that hour of Death
I always found an aroma
On every zephyr’s breath.

And this is why the twilight hour
Is holier far to me,
Than gorgeous burst of morning light,
Or moonbeams on the sea.

© Mary Gardiner Horsford . All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.theplantencyclopedia.org/wiki/Anagallis_arvensis

http://www.finedictionary.com/pimpernel.html

http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/a/anagallis-arvensis=scarlet-pimpernel.php

Author:

"If he's honest, he'll steal; if he's human, he'll murder; if he's faithful, he'll deceive. Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to leave them without any resolution." I have so much to say to you that I am afraid I shall tell you nothing."

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