When I first saw this tiny plant I instantly thought of the celebrated novel The Scarlet Pimpernel which is the first novel in a series of historical fiction by Baroness Orczy published in 1905.
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 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.
A native of Eurasia, scarlet pimpernel escaped from cultivation in North America in the 1930’s.
Though it is found in lawns, gardens and along streams, I most often see it along roadsides.
It apparently enjoys being near road salt.
Scarlet Pimpernel is also called poorman’s-weatherglass because the flowers close under cloudy skies.
I spent the morning exploring some rural fields in Pickering:
August seems to be the month of insects:
Have you seen the forest-pool
In the summer? Clear and cool. – William Canton (1845–1926)
So now I’ve seen the actual flower on which this character’s name was based. I was aware of this story, there is a movie based on it, too, but I haven’t seen or read it.
Gorgeous place, beautiful botany (and insects). Thanks, Miles!
I love to find out meaningful stories using botanical names. I have often wondered about the Scarlet Pimpernel and thought what an exotic name, not realizing it had an existence outside fiction.
You are always keeping us interested and tuned in.
Thank you Miles.