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Lobelia cardinalis

Information courtesy of Magna Vista High School students


Scientific Name: Lobelia cardinalis

Common name: Cardinal Flower

Original Namer: The Lobelia Cardinalis was named after a Flemish botanist, Mathias de l'Obel. He wrote the "Stirpium Adversaria Nova" in 1570, which detailed a new plant classifaction that was based on leaves.

Origin of Common Name: It is in reference to the red robes worn by the Roman Catholic cardinals.


Cardinal Flower is native to Virginia and the United States as a whole.


In some states, such as Arizona, Lobelia Cardinalis is salvage restricted. In other states, such as Florida, its becoming threatened. And finally in states such as New York they are exploitably vulnerable. It is not endangered in Virginia.

The Cardinal Flower blooms during mid-summer, later summer, and early fall. Its flowers are a bright red and very large.

When this plant matures and completes their growth they form many small seeds in a capsule that opens up at the top. When the wind blows, the seeds are scattered throughout. In most cases, the seeds require an average of two months of germination. But, in other cases, they can be planted immediately and let nature do the work. This mainly happens in the fall.

A few of the primary pollinators are different species of butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and bees.

Insect Association: The Cardinal Flower is very appealing to a lot of birds and it is also very typical to find a caterpillar hanging out on top of the flower.

Ecological Role: This plant plays a huge role in the health and medical science field. The tea leaves can be used to reduce pain that people have.

Historical Values/Uses: One belief they have had in the past is to create a "love potion." They also used it for its niche, which is medicine.

Unique Properties/Interesting connections: One interesting fact is that even though the Cardinal Flower is red itself, the fruit it produces is actually blue. It could also be used as a substitute when smoking tobacco.

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