FALSE PIMPERNEL Lindernia monticola
Since I have been writing this column I have identified over 300 wildflowers.
There are many more that I have seen but have not been able to identify. It is possible that there are another 100 or more that bloom in the East Metro area.
When I started this project in 1997 I had photos and data on about 50 and thought I might be able to find 50 more. What a surprise I was in for, once I began to carefully observe our many habitats.
I remain excited and challenged by what God has created for us to enjoy. The Psalmist expresses my sentiments as he said, “For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts” Psalm 92:4-5 (NIV).
We venture to the granite outcrops to examine today’s wildflower.
This is a member of the figwort family, along with toadflax, beard-tongue, speedwell, gerardia, and Indian paint brush, to name a few. Members of this family have odd shaped blooms and the stem-like part of the pistil that holds up the stigma protrudes, as pictured.
False pimpernel is a perennial that may reach 1 foot in height. Those that I found were not that tall and were in the sandy soil along the edge of the outcrop.
According to my botanical books, this species may grow atop the outcrop when the indention is deep enough to hold water all summer. Other habitats for the false pimpernel include sandstone outcrops and edges of marshy wetlands.
The false pimpernel has a rosette of three or four lance-shaped leaves at the base. From there, a single stem rises with tiny narrow leaves affixed as opposites. At the top of the stem are two bracts from which the flower rises on a reddish-green “stem” as pictured.
The tiny tubular-shaped bloom is about 3/8-inch wide and 1/2-inch deep and has two lips. The lower lip has three lobes and the upper lip has two lobes. The true pimpernel is scarlet and has five petals.
The color of the false pimpernel ranges from lavender to light blue. It is easy to confuse it with the toadflax.
If the soil remains moist, the blooming season extends from May to October, according to the “Guide to the Plants of Granite Outcrops,” written by botanists William H. and Carter Murdy and M. Eloise Brown, and published by the University of Georgia Press.
The quote selected from the Psalm included, “how profound your thoughts.” When starting this series, I was so proud that I had discovered 50 or so different wildflowers. Now I have found six times that many and I know that there must be that many more. It is humbling to me to realize how profound the thoughts of the Lord are to have blessed us with so many natural wonders.
May we “sing for joy at the works of your hands, O Lord,” this Sunday.
Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.