Last updated on May 22nd, 2023 at 10:08 am

Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), or red pimpernel, a native plant of Europe that has been naturalized in various parts of the world, including North America, is considered a weed. The annual plant bears red or blue flowers. 

The scarlet pimpernel is known by several other names, including red chickweed, shepherd’s weather glass, poor man’s barometer, shepherd’s clock, and poor man’s weather glass.

This low-growing plant is widespread in the United Kingdom, mostly seen along the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. The scientific scarlet pimpernel flower meaning translates to the adornment of the fields. That’s extremely appropriate for this creeping flowering plant of its beautiful, tiny flowers. 

Although the name scarlet pimpernel suggests red flowers, it blooms in azure blue and shades of pink, white, and orange. These small flowers have five petals that open in the morning at around 8 am and close in the afternoon or when the weather is dull. That earned it the name shepherd’s clock. Correctly called the shepherd’s weather glass, the scarlet pimpernel flower holds good as the flowers open only while the sun is bright. With a slightly overcast sky or in the evenings, the petals close. That indicates the weather.

Anagallis, the genus to which scarlet pimpernel belongs, gets its name from a Greek word that means ‘to delight again.’ The scarlet pimpernel flower is thus connected to the reopening of pretty, colorful flowers every day as the sun shines. Some people believe the genus Anagallis is closely connected to Lysimachia, consisting of 193 flowering plants, which is classified as the family Primulaceae, to which primrose belongs. 

The name pimpernel originates from the Middle English pympernele, which is again derived from Middle French pimprenelle and Old French pimprenelle. The main origin is connected to Vulgar Latin piperīnella

What does the Scarlet Pimpernel flower symbolize?

The scarlet pimpernel is another pretty wildflower growing in the countryside to add to nature’s beauty. The scarlet pimpernel flower meaning comes from a Greek word meaning amusing. Looking at these tiny, nodding flowers sprawled across pastures and gardens, blooming on long stems, explain their name meaning well.

In English literature, the iconic scarlet pimpernel flower is connected to humbleness, modesty, and restraint because of its unassuming nature. Owing to the brave hero of Orczy’s novel with the same name, the scarlet pimpernel flower meaning is also related to someone daring, mysterious, and elusive.

All in all, the scarlet pimpernel flower symbolic meanings are:

  • life
  • restraint
  • humility
  • modest

Meaning of the Scarlet Pimpernel flower colors

Red color

The red shade of this flower looks romantic, fiery, and bold. Although a small wildflower, the red scarlet pimpernel flower creates an attractive look when several flowers bloom together, symbolizing admiration.

Blue color

The azure or blue scarlet pimpernel flower is related to infinity, inspiration, and unreachable. How the flower grows in the wilderness without special care is inspiring. Spreading along open areas of Mediterranean countries, to North America and beyond, this little blue flower represents a sense of infinity and endurance.

White color

The white scarlet pimpernel is not one of the most widespread varieties. Like most flowers, the meaning of white is tied to innocence and purity. Blooming in the meadows, nodding in the breeze, the small white flowers stand for elegance and innocence.

Purple color

The purple scarlet pimpernel symbolizes dignity, admiration, and calmness. Since purple is a balanced blend of warm red and cool blue, the purple flowers are connected to harmony.

Orange color

Bright, joyful, and invigorating orange shades of this flower symbolize warmth and enthusiasm. Looking at bright blooming patches of orange scarlet pimpernel gives a sense of happiness and enthusiasm.

Interesting facts about the Scarlet Pimpernel flowers

  • Scarlet pimpernel was used for many uncertain purposes in old herbal medicine in the 16th century. It was used for cosmetic use as an ingredient in skin cream.
  • This flower was also used for medicinal purposes. One of the uses was to make potions for treating people when mad dogs bite them.
  • Considered an invasive plant variety, several mechanical and natural methods are used to control and stop the spread of this weed.
  • The scarlet pimpernel, once considered a widespread weed in the cornfields in the United Kingdom, is now in decline.
  • Scarlet pimpernel contains certain chemicals that are believed to work against some fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
  • Even when there are serious concerns related to the poisonous nature of scarlet pimpernel, certain medicines are made from the parts growing above the soil.
  • It treats herpes, depression, kidney dysfunction, joint pains, and liver disorder. It is also used as a supportive treatment for certain kinds of cancer.
  • This plant is not safe for pregnant women. It may have negative effects on human sperm, and that’s bad for people who expect to father children.
  • People use it to treat itchiness, heal wounds, and directly on painful joints. This plant should not be used without proper prescription as it may be unsafe.
  • Some European herbalists opine that the red-flowered plants are good for men and the blue-petalled plants are better suited for women.

How to grow Scarlet Pimpernel flowers

The scarlet pimpernel is a low-growing annual plant with brightly colored flowers, mostly scarlet but also bright blue and sometimes pink.

  1. Plant the scarlet pimpernel in an ordinary, well-draining garden or sandy soil.
  2. Place the plant in a spot with full sun.
  3. Water regularly in the first weeks.
  4. Begin fertilizing once every three to four weeks, as weather permits.

How to care for Scarlet Pimpernel flowers

  1. Avoid watering the scarlet pimpernel on sunny afternoons to minimize the moisture lost to evaporation.
  2. Keep the soil moist but do not let water accumulate.
  3. Stop fertilizing after the plant starts to put out fewer new blooms.
  4. Cut off and clean the diseased, yellow, or dropped leaves and stems during its growing period.

Best time to gift Scarlet Pimpernel flowers

The scarlet pimpernel is no fancy flower for gifting. It is a weed that looks similar to chickweed plants. This petite wildflower cannot be used as a cut flower, filler, or in bouquets like common garden-grown flowers. These flowers are easy to spot when blooming due to their bright orange, red, and blue hues. 

For some people, scarlet pimpernel is an invasive variety of weeds. For others, this variety of plants is great for adding colors to patches in their garden.


Gardeners who love the vibrant shades of these wayside flowers use them to add a touch of color to their rock gardens and flower bed borders. Scarlet pimpernels make a good edging for paved paths. They can be grown in pots on a sunny porch or a windowsill. If the plant receives enough sunlight, it will continue to flower even in fall through winter.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!