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The novel is set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. The title is the nom de guerre of its hero and protagonist, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Sir Percy Blakeney leads a double life: apparently nothing more than a wealthy fop, but in reality a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking master of disguise and escape artist. The band of gentlemen who assist him are the only ones who know of his secret identity. He is known by his symbol, a simple flower, the scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis).


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Scarlet pimpernel is a low-growing, branching, winter or summer annual, and occasionally, biennial broadleaf plant. It is found throughout California, up to 3300 feet (1000 m), except in the deserts and possibly the Great Basin. Scarlet pimpernel inhabits agricultural land, ornamental landscape beds, turf, water body margins, and other disturbed, open areas. If consumed, it can be toxic to livestock and humans. Toxicity level ranges from virtually nontoxic to fatally toxic and appears to correlate with summer rainfall levels. Although leaves contain saponins and other potentially toxic compounds, it is uncertain as to what substance is responsible for livestock poisonings. If more palatable forage is available, livestock will avoid eating this bitter-leaved plant.

The mature plant grows up to 1-1/3 feet (0.4 m) tall. Stems are square in cross-section, and grow upright or prostrate. Leaves are stalkless, oval to football shaped with triangular tips, and sometimes dotted with dark or purplish glands on the lower surface. Leaves are opposite to one another along the stem, or sometimes around the stem in a whorl. Common chickweed, Stellaria media, has similar leaves but rather than the square stems and glandular hairs of scarlet pimpernel, it has round stems and nonglandular hairs.

Savannah false pimpernel flowers are solitary, pedicellate and axillary. The tubular corolla is small (less than inch), purplish-white and two-lipped. Its lower lip has three wide-spreading lobes with dark blue or purple blotches. The upper lip is much shorter, purple and notched. The throat is dark purple with two yellow ridges that are covered in hairs. Flowers are subtended by five linear sepals. Leaves are bright green, fleshy and ovate to almost cordate. They are oppositely arranged and clasping. Stems are thin and generally prostrate. They creep along the ground and set roots where contact is made. Seeds are born in an inconspicuous capsule.

The name "pimpernel" is a form of the original Latin name for this plant. In the early 1900s, a novel, stage play, and, later, musicals, movies, and TV shows, set in France during the Reign of Terror, depicted a fictional masked hero called "The Scarlet Pimpernel." This was an early version of what has become the well-known trope of "hero with a secret identity." In The Scarlet Pimpernel, the mysterious, dashing hero is a mild-mannered Englishman who, as the masked hero, rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine. He signs his letters only with a drawing of this little red flower, so common in Europe.

As the alternative names of shepherd's sundial and shepherd's weather-glass suggest, scarlet pimpernel is well-known for its ability to indicate both the weather and the time of day. The small, bright scarlet flowers open at around 8 am each day, and close at 3 pm. They also close during humid or damp weather (4). This member of the primrose family is a diminutive plant, creeping close to the ground. The egg-shaped leaves are pale green and dotted with black on the undersides (2). The flowers of the subspecies native to Britain (arvensis) are red or pink, but a blue-flowered form (Forma azurea) also occurs, which is often confused with the introduced subspecies blue pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis subsp. foemina) (2). The name pimpernel comes from the Old French pimprenele, the misapplied name of the burnet saxifrage, Pimpinella saxifrage (4).

Occuring in open habitats and typically a weed of arable areas and gardens, scarlet pimpernel is also found around rabbit warrens, on road verges, sand dunes, heaths, chalk downland and on coastal cliffs (2)(3).

Many people will misidentify this plant as chickweed if the flower is not present. (The taste will definitely tell you it is not chickweed as chickweed is very pleasant tasting.) Scarlet pimpernel is a low-growing annual wildflower that has square stems, and its oval pointed leaves are black-dotted underneath.The flowers are rarely more than 10 to 12 mm across and have five sepals (commonly referred to as the petals). It's distinct orange colour makes it easy to spot if it is in bloom. Occasionally you may come across the blue-petalled variant (Anagallis cerulea) of this petite wildflower, especially in Europe.

The orange flower appears on the leaf axils and occur individually on long shafts. Scarlet pimpernel typically blooms from June to September (depending on geographical location). The flowers are only open for few hours during the day, and only if there is sun. It has five petals and five stamens, each standing exactly opposite to a leaf. Upon the stamens are a number of delicate, violet hairs, which seem to serve as a bait to insects. Flowers are usually in axillary pairs.

Scarlet pimpernel is most likely native to the Mediterranean region, but has now been introduced to most parts of the world with temperate climate. It prefers relatively sandy soil and does not tolerate shade very well. The species spreads by agricultural farming and occurs primarily as a weed in farmlands, fields and gardens. Although it prefers cultivated land it can also be found growing in fallow land, along roadsides and seashores.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is the name of a chivalrous Englishman, in the time of the Terrors in France, who, with his band of gentlemen, rescues aristocrats before they can be killed by the violent government in revolutionary France. He is known by his symbol, a simple flower, the scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis).

The Anagallis genus (also known as the pimpernel genus) is relatively small, containing only approximately 20 species worldwide. This genus is known for its low-growing, spreading nature and colorful flowers, with bog pimpernel being no exception to this.

Partially named for its preference of damp, boggy environments with acidic, peat-rich soils, bog pimpernel thrives in saturated conditions. Its creeping nature enables it to be trained to drape beautifully over rocks, along pond edges, or along waterfalls (so long as most of the leaves are not directly in the water).

In nature, A. tenella can be found in bogs, slightly acidic marshes and fens, and other saturated environments with slightly to moderately acidic soils. They can also be found in more calcium-rich, alkaline environments, such as some types of fens as well as calcareous dune slacks, which are incredibly unique, threatened, and species-rich ecosystems found in portions of Europe. These dune slacks rely on species like bog pimpernel that can thrive in low-nutrient, sometimes anoxic (lacking dissolved oxygen) conditions.

Its honey-scented flowers are typically pink, but can be more lilac-hued or white, as well; the combination of their coloration, scent, and rich pollen makes the flowers irresistible and invaluable to a variety of pollinators, including many bees, bee flies, butterflies, and moths. Bog pimpernel is considered critically endangered in nature due to its native wetland habitats being altered or removed entirely, making it illegal to harvest any portion of it in some areas. As much as 99.8% of bog pimpernel populations have been lost in Germany alone.

Despite being a creeping plant, the growth of bog pimpernel is fairly slow. Each plant can spread up to half a meter, but it often takes two or more years to achieve this. Its average height is up to 10 centimeters, making it ideal for planting along pond edges or rocks as a beautiful accent. If planted in full sun, you may expect bog pimpernel to reach its maximum size in a year or two, while if planted in partial shade it can take closer to four or five years. Exposure to full sun tends to result in more flowers, while more shade often results in more resources being devoted to creating more leaves to capture energy.

There is very little research into the potential toxicity of bog pimpernel specifically. However, its close relative scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) was studied and found to be moderately toxic to mammals and birds due to the presence of toxic oils and saponins in all parts of the plant. Due to its popularity as a pond and garden plant, and the lack of any reported poisonings via bog pimpernel, we determine it to be safe to have around fish and pets, though be sure to remove any fallen or dead leaves and flowers from the pond just to be safe. 041b061a72


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