The Scarlet Pimpernel

When I think of the Scarlet Pimpernel, I think of the French Revolution.  I think of secret societies, and of intrigue.  I think of old movies and Leslie Howard.  Oh yeah, and there’s that flower… important in the story because the hero signs his notes not with a name, but with an image, a flower:  a Scarlet Pimpernel.

I never thought to look for the flower.  It never occurred to me that it might grow around here – or even on this continent.  Then, after seeing  tiny reddish-orange flowers in the paths at Reinstein Woods and discovering (via my Flickr friends) that they were Scarlet Pimpernels… and looking them up in my various field guides and reading how “widespread” they are and that they bloom from June through August along roadsides in sandy soil, in “wasteplaces” (like lots of our summer aliens)…  well, I just began to wonder how I could have lived to be more than a half-century old and never see this flower?

Scarlet Pimpernel 1

OK, in my defense… it is only 1/4″ wide.  And it grows in sunny places – and only opens on sunny days… (and if you know me at all you know that from June to August – you’ll find me in the shade… I only venture out on cloudy / rainy days!)

Still, now that I’ve seen them… I’ll be braving the sun to look for more.

5 thoughts on “The Scarlet Pimpernel

  1. I had a similar experience with scarlet pimpernels. Never thought to look for them, then found them growing in a weedy patch near a downtown sidewalk. Then someone thought to “improve” the site and weeded them all out. Sigh!

  2. Pingback: Volunteer Trail Guide Thank You Field Trip « A Passion for Nature

  3. Jen, here in CA you can see them all over the place. But mostly on trails, or even in my backyard (as a weed), but we don’t pull them up while they’re blooming – they are so pretty. I’ve seen these plants growing in New Mexico, too, when I lived there (about 10-12 yrs ago), and I never could find out what they were called. Then this past spring my daughter informed me of their proper name.

  4. I just bought the Jane Seymour/Anthony Andrews DVD of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I love that movie! It’s so much fun! (the book is equally enjoyable). I had no idea, though, that the pimpernel grows here in the US. Very cool! I’ll be looking for it now, too.

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