Freitag, 15. Juni 2012

Plant of the Day (June 15th, 2012) - Anagallis arvensis L.


Again, another species, which I found during my Field Trip to the Rhine shore, should be today's “Plant of the Day”. This species is Anagallis arvensis L. from the Primulaceae family (Sub-Family: Myrsinoidae) In German, this plant is known as “Acker-Gauchheil”, while other common names are “Nebelblume”, “Wetterkraut” or “Roter Weinbergstern”. In English, this plant also has a lot of different names like “Red pimpernel” “Shepard's clock” or “Poor man's barometer”.

A. arvensis - habitus

It's a small herb, which can reach heights between 5 and 30 centimetres (2 to 11.75 inches). The bald stalk grows creeping or upright. The leaves are egg-shaped or oval with an average length of 25 millimetres and an average width of 14 millimetres. They sit directly at the stalk.

A. arvensis - leaves

The inflorescences of A. arvensis are single, radial flowers with five sepals and petals. The petals are brick-red (blue at some subspecies) and covered with small glands. Flowering time is between May and October. Each flower has a special opening cycle, which depends on daytime and weather (see below).
The ripe fruit is a capsule with 22 seeds.

A. arvensis is native to the Mediterranean but can be found all over the world today . It prefers loamy, nutrient-rich soils and grows e. g. on ruderal wastelands, in Gardens and vineyards or on fields.

A. arvensis - flower

This species has a lot of names, which refer to its special properties or past uses. Here are some examples.

Acker-Gauchheil: “Acker” is the German word for “field” and refers to the typical growing place. “Gauch” is an old German word for a madman, while “heil” means “to cure”. In past, A. arvensis was used (unsuccessfully) to cure madness, which is the reason for this German name.

Shepard's clock, Poor man's clock: these names refer to the special, daily flowering cycle of the the flowers, which are open between 9 o'clock in the morning and 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Wetterkraut, Nebelblume, Poor man's barometer: another special feature of the flowers is to close themself before rain. So, A. arvensis was used in past for weather forecast. This is the reason for these English and German names.

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