Friday, January 30, 2015

Flower Friday: Cardinalflower is surprisingly still blooming in North and Central Florida.

Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinalflower bloom and leaves. Photos by Craig Mazer.
Cardinalflower is a perennial herbaceous plant that produces erect spikes of brilliant red blooms. Flowers are tubular and two-lipped, with wide-spreading petals that appear lobed, but are actually fused. Leaves are bright green, elliptic to lance-shaped, have toothed margins and are alternately arranged.

This stunning species typically flowers in summer through early winter, and dies back to a basal rosette in late winter, but has been known to bloom year-round in some areas. These photos were taken on January 25, 2015 along Silver River, where cardinalflower has continued to bloom since last summer.

A stand of cardinalflowers blooming along Silver River.
Photo by Lars Andersen.

Cardinalflower attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. It occurs naturally in floodplain forests, riverine swamps, spring runs and along river and stream edges. It is listed as a threatened species in Florida.
The common name cardinalflower has been in use since the mid-1600s and is likely derived from the flower's similarity to the robes worn by Catholic cardinals.

Family: Campanulaceae (Bellflower family)Hardiness: Zones 7–10
Native range: Panhandle, North and central peninsula
Soil: Prefers rich, acidic, poorly drained soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 2–5 feet tall
Garden tips: Cardinalflower is great for moist wildflower gardens, water gardens, and along edges of ponds, streams and drainage depressions.

Caution: All parts of this plant are believed to be toxic if ingested.

Cardinalflower is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where cardinalflower occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3462.

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