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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This perennial plant is usually unbranched and 2–3½' tall. The central stem is light green, terete, and sparingly to densely hairy. The alternate leaves are up 6" long and 1½" across, but they are typically about one-half of this maximum size. The rough-textured leaves are lanceolate in shape and coarsely serrated along their margins; they have a tendency to curl upward along their central veins. The lower leaves have short petioles, while the upper ones are sessile. The undersides of leaves usually have fine hairs.  The central stem terminates in a spike-like raceme of showy red flowers (rarely white). This raceme is about ½–1½' long. The red corolla of each flower has a narrow tubular structure that is upright and terminates in grayish white reproductive organs; these organs nod downward. Beneath this are 2 narrow lateral lobes and a lower lip that is 3-lobed. The green calyx is deeply divided into 5 linear teeth that spread outward. The flowers are held at an upward angle in relation to the stem; they are about 1–1½" long and ¾–1" across. The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall, lasting about 1–1½ months. There is no floral scent. The small seeds can be carried aloft by the wind. The root system consists of a taproot. Cultivation
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Description

General: Bellflower Family (Campanulaceae). This herbaceous perennial is 5 to 15 cm. tall with unbranched stems. The alternate leaves are toothed and oblong to lance-shaped and pointed at both ends. The irregular, two-lipped flowers are tubular with the upper portion two-lobed and the lower spreading and divided into three parts. The fire engine red flowers appear in long terminal racemes and they are from 30-45 mm. The anthers are at the end of a slender red filament tube extending out over the lower lip of the corolla. The corolla has a slit on each side near the base. The seeds come in a two-celled, many-seeded capsules opening at the top. They are small, less than 1 mm. and numerous.

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Alternative names

Indian pink

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis var. graminea (Lam.) McVaugh:
Panama (Mesoamerica)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia mucronata Engelm.:
Mexico (Mesoamerica)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis subsp. cardinalis :
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
  • McVaugh, R. 1940. Campanulaceae (Lobelioideae). In Woodson, Jr, R.E. & Schery, R.W. (Eds), Contributions toward a Flora of Panama. IV. Miscellaneous Collections, chiefly by Paul H. Allen. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 27(3): 347–353.   http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/4750 External link.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis fo. cardinalis :
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia splendens Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.:
Honduras (Mesoamerica)
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis var. pseudosplendens McVaugh:
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis var. phyllostachya (Engelm.) McVaugh:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis subsp. graminea (Lam.) McVaugh:
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
Panama (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis var. multiflora (Paxton) McVaugh:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia cardinalis L.:
Belize (Mesoamerica)
Canada (North America)
Colombia (South America)
Guatemala (Mesoamerica)
Honduras (Mesoamerica)
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
Panama (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia graminea Lam.:
Panama (Mesoamerica)
Peru (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Lobelia mucronata Cav.:
Peru (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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This plant is found in wet soil from New Brunswick to Minnesota, south to the Gulf of Mexico. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Type Information

Holotype for Lobelia cardinalis var. pseudosplendens McVaugh in Woodson & Schery
Catalog Number: US 2133285
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): C. H. Muller
Year Collected: 1939
Locality: 12 mi NE of Bella Vista., Madera, Chihuahua, Mexico, North America
  • Holotype: Woodson, R. E. & Schery, R. W. 1940. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 27: 348.
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Ecology

Dispersal

Establishment

Adaptation: Cardinal flower is comparatively easy to grow. The capsules can be collected in autumn, usually October. The stalks are cut below the capsules, and placed upside down in a per sack. Once, home, the bag is opened so that the capsules are exposed to the air for a few days. Shake the bag to release the seeds. Crushing the capsules with a rolling pin and picking out the seeds from the litter can retrieve the capsules that have remaining seeds. The seeds can then be planted right away.

Propagation by seeds: The seeds will germinate without cold stratification, but they need light, so sow the seeds in a flat with a damp fine grade peat light mix. Keep the flats moist and under lights or in a greenhouse. They should green up in a few weeks. Transplant them in 4-6 weeks into individual pots such as 70 cell plug trays, use the same potting mix and keep fertilizing. The seedlings are tiny at first, so fertilize them every other week with a liquid fertilizer. After another 4 weeks they can be put out in the garden or transplanted into larger pots of 4 to 6 inch diameter. Plant the plants in an outdoor spot that is in full sun or very light shade and never dries completely. Space the plants 8 to 12 inches apart. Add plenty of peat moss when planting and mulch well to keep the soil cool and moist. Protect the plants from deer. Cardinal flower will take two years to bloom, forming a large rosette the first year. Allow the plants to self-sow. They are heavy feeders, so compost or a shot of granular fertilizer when they begin growth is recommended.

Propagation by cuttings: Take two node stem cuttings (4-6 inches) before the flowers open and remove the lower leaf and half the upper leaf. Treat the cutting with hormodin 2 or roottone and place the cuttings in a sand and perlite medium, cover lightly, water, and remember to keep the medium moist. Roots will form in 2-3 weeks, but the cuttings need to force a good new crown from the lower node to successfully over-winter.

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects & Birds of Cardinal Flower in Illinois

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)
(Short-tongued bees collect pollen & are non-pollinating; bumblebees perforate the flowers, steal nectar through these perforations [sn@prf], & are non-pollinating; other visitors suck nectar; observations are from Robertson, Graenicher, and Bertin)

Birds
Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris sn fq (Rb, Gr, Brt)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica prf sn@prf fq np (Rb)

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella striata cp np (Rb), Lasioglossum versatus cp np (Rb)

Butterflies
Papilionidae: Battus philenor sn (Rb), Papilio polyxenes asterias sn (Rb), Papilio troilus sn (Rb)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Lobelia cardinalis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lobelia cardinalis L.

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lobelia cardinalis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.” Seeds and plants of selected Lobelia cardinalis cultivars are available from many nurseries. It is best to plant species from your local area, adapted to the specific site conditions where the plants are to be grown.

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When well established, clumps of this plant can be divided in the fall or spring by separating the rosettes or basal offshoots from the mother plant and replanting these divisions and watering them immediately. In the winter, keep the leafy offshoots at the base of the drying stems of old plants free of leaf litter to allow them full exposure to the air and sunshine.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Ethnobotanic: The Iroquois had many medicinal uses for cardinal flower. The root was boiled together with the root of Cichorium intybus and the liquid was used to treat fever sores. The mashed roots, stems, leaves, and blossoms were made into a decoction and drank for cramps. The plant was also used as an emetic for an upset stomach from eating something bad. The plant was added to other medicines to give them more strength. The Delaware used an infusion of the roots to treat typhoid. The Meskwaki used this plant as a ceremonial tobacco, throwing it to the winds to ward off a storm. The Pawnee used the roots and flowers of cardinal flower in the composition of a love charm.

Wildlife: Hummingbirds are attracted to the nectar. Deer browsing often damages young plants.

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Wikipedia

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia cardinalis (syn. L. fulgens, cardinal flower) is a species of Lobelia native to the Americas, from southeastern Canada south through the eastern and southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia.[1]

Description[edit]

It is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows up to 1.2 m (4 ft) tall and is found in wet places, streambanks, and swamps. The leaves are up to 20 cm (8 in) long and 5 cm (2 in) broad, lanceolate to oval, with a toothed margin. The flowers are usually vibrant red, deeply five-lobed, up to 4 cm across; they are produced in an erect raceme up to 70 cm (28 in) tall during the summer to fall. Forms with white (f. alba) and pink (f. rosea) flowers are also known.[2]

Lobelia cardinalis is related to two other Lobelia species in to the Eastern United States, Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) and Lobelia siphilitica (great lobelia); all display the characteristic "lip" petal near the opening of the flower and the "milky" liquid the plant excretes. L. siphilitica has blue flowers and is pollinated by bees, whereas L. cardinalis is red and is pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).[3]

Lobelia cardinalis on the bank of Ichetucknee River, Columbia Co., Florida.

Etymology[edit]

It was introduced to Europe in the mid-1620s, where the name cardinal flower was in use by 1629, likely due to the similarity of the flower's color to the vesture of Roman Catholic Cardinals.[4]

Cultivation[edit]

In cultivation L. cardinalis requires rich, deep soil which remains reliably moist year-round. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[5]

This plant is easily propagated by dividing and spreading out the young plants which form around the older mature plants each year. Although the plant is generally considered a perennial any one plant may only live 7 to 10 years and then die. To ensure that your whole collection of cardinal flowers do not die off at the same time be sure to propagate some new plant lines using seeds at least every 4 years. Human activity also can interfere with the wildlife when getting the original seeds for your collection of "cardinal flowers". Taking seeds or roots of lobelia cardinalis to start your collection will stunt the growth of the "cardinal flower" population.

Medicinal and other uses[edit]

North American indigenous peoples used root tea for a number of intestinal ailments and syphilis.[citation needed] Leaf teas were used by them for bronchial problems and colds, inter alia. The Meskwaki people used it as part of an inhalant against catarrh. The Penobscot people smoked the dried leaves as a substitute for tobacco. It may also have been chewed.[6] The plant contains a number of alkaloids. As a member of the genus Lobelia, it is considered to be potentially toxic.[7] Lobelia may have potential as a drug for, or in study of, neurological disorders.[8] The Zuni people use this plant as an ingredient of "schumaakwe cakes" and used it externally for rheumatism and swelling. [9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Lobelia cardinalis
  2. ^ Missouriplants: Lobelia cardinalis
  3. ^ Caruso, C. M.; Peterson, S. B.; Ridley, C. E. (2003), "Natural selection on floral traits of Lobelia (Lobeliaceae): spatial and temporal variation", American Journal of Botany 90 (9): 1333–40, doi:10.3732/ajb.90.9.1333, PMID 21659233 
  4. ^ Donaldson, C. (1999). Cardinal Flower – Spectacular Scarlet Blossoms That Hummingbirds Adore. Plants & Gardens News 14 (3). online at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Accessed 23 May 2006.
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Lobelia cardinalis". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Guédon, Marie-Françoise. Sacred Smudging in North America, Walkabout Press 2000
  7. ^ Foster, Steven and James A. Duke. Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants. Peterson Field Guides, Houghton, Mifflin 1990 edn. ISBN 0-395-92066-3
  8. ^ Felpin F.-X., Lebreton J. , "History, chemistry and biology of alkaloids from Lobelia inflata" Tetrahedron 2004 60:45 (10127-10153)
  9. ^ Stevenson, Matilda Coxe 1915 Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30 (p. 56)
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Several subspecies or varieties sometimes recognized (e.g., Kartesz, 1994 checklist); in Kartesz 1999 floristic synthesis, no infrataxa recognized at all in this widespread, variable species. LEM 9Feb00.

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