Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Scarlet Pimpernel: Anagallis arvensis

Weed Description:  A low-growing annual that resembles chickweed but has showy reddish-orange flowers.  Primarily a weed of turfgrass and landscapes that is now distributed throughout the United States.

Seedling:  Cotyledons triangular in outline, dark green in color, shiny, with tiny hairs.  Young leaves are opposite and resemble those of the mature plant. 

Leaves:  Opposite, oval to elliptic in outline, reaching 1 inch in length, without petioles.  Lower leaf surfaces have small dark purple spots.  Leaves may have tiny hairs and sometimes may occur in whorls of three.

Stems:  Square, branching at the base, and may reach 10 inches in length.

Fruit:  A round capsule that contains many small (1.3 mm long), brown seeds.

Flowers:  Solitary flowers arise from the area between the stem and leaves (leaf axils) and occur on relatively long stalks (pedicels).  Individual flowers have 5 petals that are orange to red in color with tiny hairs along the margins.  Flowering usually occurs from June to August.

spimp5-28.jpg (46874 bytes) Identifying Characteristics:  A low-growing annual with opposite leaves that have spots on the lower surfaces.  This weed is often mistakenly identified as Common Chickweed (Stellaria media), however scarlet pimpernel has square stems and reddish-orange flowers while common chickweed has round stems and white flowers.  Additionally, the purple spots on the lower leaf surfaces of scarlet pimpernel help to distinguish this weed from other similar weed species.