AskDefine | Define pimpernel

Dictionary Definition



1 European garden herb with purple-tinged flowers and leaves that are sometimes used for salads [syn: salad burnet, burnet bloodwort, Poterium sanguisorba]
2 any of several plants of the genus Anagallis

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

From late pimpinella


  1. Any of various plants, of the genus Anagallis, having small red, white or purple flowers; especially the scarlet pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis.

Etymology 2

From The Scarlet Pimpernel, rescuer of aristocrats from the French revolutionists in the novel The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.


  1. A gallant dashing resourceful man given to remarkable feats of bravery and derring-do in liberating victims of tyranny and injustice.
    Lined up solidly with the Pimpernels and with the persecuted. -- Hal Lehrman

Extensive Definition

For the 2nd century BC grammarian sometimes thought to be named Anagallis, see Agallis.
Anagallis is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering plants in the myrsine family Myrsinaceae, commonly called pimpernel and perhaps best known for the Scarlet pimpernel referred to in literature.
These are annual or perennial plants, growing in tufts on weedy and uncultivated areas. The stems are prostrate with ovate to cordate leaves. The flowers of the different species show miscellaneous colors. They are radially symmetrical with five petals. They grow usually in the leaf axils, but sometimes as short spikes at the top of the stem. Pimpernel flowers remain open only under direct sun-light.
They were formerly classified as members of the primrose family (Primulaceae), but a genetic and morphological study by Källersjö et al. (1999; see references) showed that they belong to the Myrsinaceae. Another study by Ulrika Manns and Arne A. Anderberg (2005), based on molecular phylogeny, states the genus in its present circumscription is paraphyletic and should also include in its clade the small genera Asterolinon and Pelletiera, as well as two Lysimachia species (Lysimachia nemorum and Lysimachia serpyllifolia).


  • Anagallis acuminata - (Angola)
  • Anagallis alternifolia - (Chile)
  • Anagallis arvensis - Scarlet Pimpernel, Red Pimpernel (Europe; syn. *A. parviflora, A. platyphylla, A. phoenicea)
  • Anagallis barbata - (Brazil)
  • Anagallis brevipes - (Tanzania)
  • Anagallis crassifolia - (Spain, Morocco)
  • Anagallis djalonis - (tropical Africa)
  • Anagallis filiformis - (Brazil)
  • Anagallis foemina - Blue Pimpernel (Europe; syn. A. caerulea)
  • Anagallis gracilipes - (Zimbabwe)
  • Anagallis hexamera - (Ethiopia, Kenya)
  • Anagallis kingaensis - (tropical Africa)
  • Anagallis minima - Chaffweed (Europe; syn. A. centunculus, previously Centunculus minimus)
  • Anagallis monelli - Flaxleaf Pimpernel (Mediterranean; syn. A. linifolia)
  • Anagallis nummulariifolia - (Madagascar)
  • Anagallis oligantha - (Malawi)
  • Anagallis peploides - (Madagascar)
  • Anagallis pumila - Florida Pimpernel (Americas)
  • Anagallis rubricaulis - (Madagascar)
  • Anagallis schliebenii - (Tanzania)
  • Anagallis serpens - (eastern Africa)
  • Anagallis tenella - Bog Pimpernel (Europe; syn. A. repens )
  • Anagallis tenuicaulis - (Madagascar)
  • Anagallis tsaratananae - (Madagascar)


pimpernel in Danish: Arve
pimpernel in German: Gauchheil
pimpernel in Spanish: Anagallis
pimpernel in French: Anagallis
pimpernel in Upper Sorbian: Kurymór
pimpernel in Hebrew: מרגנית
pimpernel in Lithuanian: Progailis
pimpernel in Dutch: Guichelheil
pimpernel in Polish: Kurzyślad
pimpernel in Portuguese: Anagallis
pimpernel in Albanian: Anagallis
pimpernel in Serbian: Видовчица
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