Thursday, July 21, 2011

"We Seek Him Here..."

Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is a common annual of roadsides, cultivated land and dunes, and is most famous for its delicate scarlet flowers (1). These are at the end of straggling stems that are often up to 25 cm in length. The flowers open in the morning and close at mid afternoon, lending it the alternate common name of “Shepherd's Weatherglass”. The plant is a source of a diverse number of natural compounds, with 14 flavanoids, 3 anthocyanins (2), oleanane triterpenes, saponins, flavones and cucurbitacins (3) to name but a few, isolated to date. One of the triterpene saponins isolated from A. arvensis has even been shown to have antiviral activity against the herpes simplex virus and poliovirus (4), proving it to be a useful plant indeed.
Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis with flower closed


References:
  1. Phillips, 1977. Wildflowers of Britain p. 46
  2. Kawashty et al., 1998. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 26 663-668
  3. Yamada et al., 1978. Phytochemistry 17 p. 1798
  4. Amoros et al., 1987. Antiviral Research, 8 pp. 13-25

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