Anagallis arvensis
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Myrsinaceae: Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
 © W.P. Armstrong 15 May 2012 

Figure 1. Anagallis arvensis in coastal sage scrub north of Owens Peak. Sony HX9v.

Originally native to Europe, the scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is one of the most common naturalized annuals in San Diego County. It is called "poor man's weatherglass" because the flowers supposedly close when rain is in the immediate forecast. The petals also fold up in late afternoon, not opening again until the following morning. This colorful little annual is very common throughout the coastal mountains and valleys, especially in disturbed areas where annual weeds often become established. This species was formerly placed in the primrose family (Primulaceae), but in the revised Jepson Manual of California Plants it is placed in the myrsine family (Myrsinaceae).

Many floras refer to the flower color as "salmon." According to Wikipedia, scarlet is a slightly orange-red color with the
hexadecimal code of #FF2400:
Perhaps the original person(s) who named this plant "scarlet pimpernel" had red color vision deficiencies.

  Inheritance Of Color Blindness In Huimans  

The name "scarlet pimpernel" was widely popularized in the novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, a young woman forced to flee her native Hungary because of fear of a peasant revolt against the ruling class. The story is set in the 18th century during the French Revolution. Her ficticious character was Sir Percy Blakeney, leader of a secret society of English aristocrats called the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. As the Pimpernel, he rescues French aristocrats who have been condemned to death by the guillotine. Blakeney used the flower as his trademark when he siged his messages.
The scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) was also Unknown #25 in the "keying out" laboratory exercises for my plant identification course (Botany 110) at Palomar College. This abundant plant was an excellent example of free central placentation.

In the various floras I used, the plant was placed in the primrose family (Primulaceae). The corolla color was described as "salmon." Only once did I find a blue-flowered plant near the Palomar College campus.

During the past 40 years I have seen literally hundreds of thousands of these plants in San Diego County, and 99.9 percent of them had salmon-colored flowers. Only on a few rare occasions have I ever seen a plant with blue flowers. In fact, the rare blue form has been listed as var. caerulea and ssp. foemina in older references. Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia (Volume 1, 2003) and Sunset Western Garden Book (1995) list blue pimpernel (Anagallis monelli) as a perennial ground cover with two cultivars: 'Pacific blue' and 'Phillipii.' There are also two native pimpernels in San Diego County, including water pimpernal (Samolus parviflorus) and another species of Anagallis (A. minima) of vernal pool areas.

Figure2. Anagallis arvensis in coastal sage scrub north of Palomar College. Sony T-9 .

Figure4. Flowers fold up in cloudy weather and late afternoon. Rain prediction is not accurate.

Figure5. A single blue-flowered plant (white arrow) in Coastal Sage Scrub north of Owens Peak.

A Tip For Sony T-9 & T-10 Camera Users

Can A 6 Megapixel Sony T-9 Image Be Enlarged To Resolution Of Newer Cameras?
Try The Stand Alone Program (Or Photoshop Plugin) Called Perfect Resize

Figure 3. A 4.3 megapixel image cropped from a 6 megapixel Sony T-9 image.

    Megapixel (MP) refers to resolution of image. Megabyte (MB) refers to size of image.

  1. The above T-9 image was cropped from an original 6 megapixel image (2816 x 2112 pixels) reducing it to 4.3 megapixels (2524 x 1688 pixels).

  2. The image was tweaked with Photoshop CS4 and saved as a 4.3 megapixel 12.2 megabyte PSD file (35" x 23" x 72 dpi).

  3. Using Perfect Resize, I increased the resolution to 12.4 megapixels (4300 x 2876 pixels). The image size in megabytes (MB) almost quadrupled. (12.2 to 35.4 MB)

  4. See following summary table and click on PDF icon to see the 12.4 megapixel 300 dpi image.

PSD Image File
Original T-9
Cropped T-9
Pixel Dimensions
2816 x 2112
2524 x 1688
4300 x 2876
Document Size
Inches & DPI
39.1 x 29.3 x 72
35.0 x 23.4 x 72
14.3 x 9.5 x 300

Click PDF Icon To See Uprezzed 12.4 MP Image
Click Here To Download Latest Acrobat Reader

Cropped From Above 72 dpi 4.3 MP Image (Figure 3)
and slightly enlarged to the above dimensions.

Cropped From 300 dpi Perfect Resize Image
and reduced in size to above dimensions.

The above images were both cropped to show only the androecium and gynoecium (male & female sex organs) of the blue pimpernel. The left image was cropped from the 4.3 megapixel 72 dpi image that was not uprezzed (Figure 3). In order to resize it to match the right image, it had to be enlarged slightly. The right image was uprezzed to a default 300 dpi "general photo printing" with Perfect Resize and then cropped.

The bottom line here is that Perfect Resize definitely gives you a little more cropping room in a small sensor point-and-shoot camera (like the T-9) that only shoots relatively low resolution JPG images.

Myrsinaceae: Flaxleaf Pimpernel (Anagallis monellii)

Flaxleaf pimpernel (Anagallis monellii), a perennial native to the Mediterranean region.

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