Pimpernel

Poisonous Poisonous Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

The pimpernels, yellow, scarlet, and blue to name a few, although not closely related (actually in the primula family) are very similar in appearance to the chickweeds but with clear differences which is good as several are toxic.

They are low growing straggly plants often growing in broad patches but only reaching 20-30cm tall. The 5 petalled flowers are 5-10mm across and yellow, red, blue or pink. They are not hairy. None have the line of hairs along the stem like common chickweed. None are hairy like mouse eared chickweeds. None have white flowers like the chickweeds.

The pictures here are of yellow pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum a plant of damp woodland and Scarlet pimpernel, Lysimachia arvensis, the blue pimpernel is Lysimachia foemena.

 

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Pimpernel, Yellow Pimpernel, Scarlet Pimpernel, Scarlet Pimpernel, Blue Pimpernel, Creeping Jenny, Red Chickweed
Scientific Name Lysimachia sp
Season Start
Season End
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Leaves very similar to the chickweeds, oval, 5-20mm, arranged in opposite pairs around the stem but not hairy like mouse eared chickweed.

Flowers

The flowers of the pimpernels have 5 petals and can be yellow, red, blue, or pink. They are not deeply incised like the chickweeds nor white like the chickweeds.

Seed Pods

Seedcase of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Stem

Simple thin green stems very similar to the chickweeds but hairless.

Habitat

Moist with some sunlight and not too much spring competition. Sunny patches in woods, sides of ditches, gardens and paths.

Possible Confusion

The chickweeds are very similar looking in habit and leaf shape but the flowers are white and they have hairs, in a line along the stem for common chickweed and all over for mouse eared chickweed.

Other Facts

At least some of the pimpernels are acrid and bitter to the taste, making them unattractive fodder for grazing livestock. This is good as they appear to be quite toxic to many animals including humans. The name pimpernel comes from the latin for pepper, possibly referring to its acrid taste.

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