SCARLET PIMPERNEL – Anagallis arvensis ssp arvensis: Primulaceae (creeping)
The plant: a hairless annual seen usually on disturbed ground although this plant was photographed in a sand dune area of Holy Island. Can form quite a spreading network.
The flowers: One cm in diameter, there are five petals which can be red, pinkish-orange and occasionally blue. Flower in mid-summer. The flowers open in sunlight only and the petals are fringed by hairs.
The leaves: are usually paired and are roughly ovoid in shape.
Names, mythology, uses and folk-lore: Many of the names are based on time. The flowers open in sun-light by 8am, but close about 3pm each day. Hence shepherd’s watch/clock, shepherd’s calendar, wink and peep. Other names quoted in different places include adder’s eyes, grandfather’s weatherglass, and weather teller.
It is possibly best known from its adaptation by the fictional hero, the Scarlet Pimpernel, a story set in the French Revolution.
I could find no widespread herbal uses for the plant although references appear to the plant having been used against tooth-ache, depression (one colloquial name is “laughter bringer”) and liver and kidney complaints.