Cardinal Flower has flowers which are the most beautiful red in colour that I can imagine.
It grows in swamps and floodplain forest; thickets and open ground along rivers and streams; marshes, wet shores and ditches. The ones that I photographed were on rocky soil in the middle of a little stream in the Kawarthas.
The flowers have a long corolla tube.
Hummingbird feeders are often bright red in order to attract these tiny birds.
Cardinal Flowers are normally pollinated by hummingbirds who are likely attracted by the red colour. Bees may also visit the flowers and gather nectar through little slits on the sides of the corolla.
Early explorers to the Americas were so impressed by these flowers that they were introduced into Europe in the 1620’s and were called “cardinal” after the vesture of Roman Catholic cardinals.
Cardinal Flower is found from southeastern Canada, through the eastern and southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America to northern Columbia.
The flowers have 5 petals with 2 lips. The upper lip has 2 lobes and the lower lip has 3 lobes.
The plant can be between 2 and 5 feet in height and flowers from July to September.
The leaves can be up to 8 inches long and 2 inches wide, are alternate to each other and have a toothed margin.
The flowers are about 1 inch or a little more in length.