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The Majestic Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a herbaceous perennial that grows in moist places on the shores of streams, lakes, and ponds. Cardinal flower is a nectar plant for butterflies, long-tongued bees, and hummingbirds. This plant can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Taxonomy and History of Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) — CC BY 4.0, from New York Botanical Garden, via Index Kewensis


Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) was originally described by Carl Von Linnaeus in 1753 in Species Plantarum. Two forms, white and pink flowers, are known. This plant is a member of the Bellfower Family (Campanulaceae).

Cardinal Flower Description and Alternative Names

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) — Hardyplants, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Cardinal flower is herbaceous perennial that grows to 3 to 6 feet tall. The alternate, simple, lanceolate, finely serrate leaves range from 4 inches in length and about 2 inches in width.

Alternative Names

This plant is also known as Indian Pink.

Range and Habitat

Pond in the country — Agnes Monkelbaan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Range of Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in the United States

This species is found throughout the United States, except for the northwest and northern mid-west states.


This plant is found in wet places such as stream banks, pond and lakeshores, and swamps.

Insects that it Supports

Hummingbird — mefisher, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

While not a host species, this plant is an important nectar source to butterflies, long-tongued bees, and hummingbirds.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Lobelia, was named for Matthias de l’Obel, a French botanist and doctor (Missouri Botanical Garden). The species name, cardinalis, refers to the color of flower being similar to a Cardinal’s robe.

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