By William T. Hathaway

Red Lobelia

The Red Lobelia or Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a native wildflower inhabiting low, moist soil of ditches, stream banks and woodlands. It is a perennial that may easily reach 4 ft. tall, especially in swampy sites. From late July until early September we may be astonished when we surprisingly stumble across these upright spikes of red, scarlet or rich vermilion.

The tubular shape of the flowers provide no landing platform, but a hummingbird with its long beak is known to sip the nectar at the base of the floral tube. Having often seen a delicate hummingbird wheeling from blossom to blossom on red trumpet vine flowers, I can appreciate why this finely skilled little bird, with rapid-beating wings, would hover before such a brilliantly red, floral denizen of the wilds.


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