P80826It is pretty but pervasive. Actually, I do not really find scarlet pimpernel to be all that appealing, but this is how someone who reads my gardening column in the Santa Ynes Valley News describes it. Embarrassingly, she requested that I discuss scarlet pimpernel while it was more of a problem back on June 7, but I only recently read the message. By now, it is already dying back for autumn, and is completely deteriorated in dry and hot exposed areas. It will be back next spring, and will bloom with tiny peachy orange flowers so that it can throw tiny but ridiculously abundant seed by summer before anyone notices. Flowers can be other colors in other regions. The sprawling stems can spread more than a foot wide, and can get up to about ten inches high if sprawling over other weeds. The tiny and soft leaves are arranged in opposing pairs. Scarlet pimpernel may not seem like much of a threat now that it is deteriorating, but new seedlings will be profuse early next spring, and can compete with seedlings of more desirable plants.
Control of scarlet pimpernel is not easy. If application of herbicide is an option, it does not stick to the foliage of scarlet pimpernel very well, even with a wetting agent. Hoeing eliminated larger plants, but does not kill the seed that the larger plants have already tossed. Scarlet pimpernel starts throwing seed so early that it must be pulled as soon as it appears in very early spring. Like I said, it is not easy. The small plants are not even easy to see. The process must be repeated at least weekly for a while, just because some seedlings will emerge after the first batch is gone.
Fortunately, scarlet pimpernel is not very vigorous. If it comes up through mulch, only a few plants will survive, and they will be easy to pull. They do not compete with other more vigorous plants well either. Many simple ground covers will simply shade it out, although it can mingle with and ruin some of the finely textured ground covers like baby tears and thyme.
I am sorry that I do not have any more information about scarlet pimpernel than is commonly known. I am speaking primarily from experience, and my experience has not been as bad as with other more aggressive weeds. Scarlet pimpernel always seems to be around, but is not so much of a problem that I am too worried about annihilating it completely.P80826+

22 thoughts on “Scarlet Pimpernel

  1. Poor Man’s Weathervane, as the flowers close in bad weather. Native wild flower in UK. And ‘change’ or ‘assignation’ in the language of flowers. Definitely not ‘damned elusive’ if it’s a nuisance in the US!

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    1. Even though it lives here, I do not often perceive it to be a very serious problem, unless of course, it gets into lawn. I know it is a serious problem in some regions, but I somehow do not do much work in those regions.


  2. The irritating thing about this weed is that unless you’re very careful it nearly always snaps off just above ground level, ready to grow again as soon as your back’s turned.

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  3. Well, here I am, ready to defend this little wildflower. Even though it’s introduced and not native, I still think it’s pretty: at least partly because I often see the blue and orange mixed together in a lovely combination. I’ve read that it comes in red, too, but I’ve never seen that. Maybe one day.

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    1. Someone told me that they saw it in blue here too, but no one believed it. I do not know how it would have gotten here without getting noticed. Regardless, you can defend them all you want. it is still a weed to some of us.
      I do not need to contend with it much here, but sometimes, it develops in patches in the sunnier spots under the redwoods. I think that is strange because it will not grow through mulch. Anyway, if the patches of it look good, now one wants to ruin it if it is not necessary to do so.


    2. I think I have seen the blue form at one time, now that you mention it! I think I would like it better. I just realized with all this discussion that it’s one plant I don’t have volunteering in my new garden. I would prefer it to some I do have!!

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      1. Well, that is why it is one of those weeds that some of us do not complain about much. I have seen it as a terrible problem in lawns. Yet, if I had to choose, I would prefer it to foxtails or thistles in unlandscaped areas.

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  4. We have a collection of remote rocky isles off the coast between the border of New Hampshire and Maine. I stayed several days on Star Island, the largest of the NH isles, for a photography class. It was there that I was introduced to this little plant. If it grows on the the huge rock called Star Island out in the Atlantic, it’s got to be one tough plant.

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