25 May 2017

Blue Pimpernel - Tanoumah

Whilst birding the Asir mountains of the Tanoumah area in southwest Saudi Arabia, I came across a plant I could not identify. It looked like a blue Scarlet Pimpernel but I did not think they existed. As a result, I asked Irene Linning who is a plant expert and who previously lived in Saudi Arabia if she could identify it for me. Irene said it was a Blue Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis ssp foemina a species that grows widely with flowers 9 mm wide and petals slightly fringed. This is a relative of the European Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel a plant generally considered a weed. They grow in light soils, though it grows opportunistically in clayey soils as well. The blue form of Anagallis arvensis can be difficult to distinguish from Anagallis arvensis ssp foemina, but the petal margins are diagnostic: whereas foemina has clearly irregular petal margins with only 5 to 15 glandular hairs, A. arvensis ssp azurea has 50 to 70 hairs on only slightly irregular margins.
Blue Pimpernel