Common Name : Cardinal Flower
Habitat : Lobelia cardinalis is native to the Americas, from southeastern Canada south through the eastern and southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia.It is found in wet places, streambanks, and swamps.
It is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows up to 1.2 m tall and has bright red flowers.The leaves are up to 20 cm long and 5 cm broad, lanceolate to oval, with a toothed margin. The flowers are usually vibrant red, deeply five-lobed, up to 4 cm across; they are produced in an erect raceme up to 70 cm tall during the summer to fall. Forms with white (f. alba) and pink (f. rosea) flowers are also known…
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Lobelia cardinalis is related to two other Lobelia species in to the Eastern United States, Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco) and Lobelia siphilitica (Great Lobelia); all display the characteristic “lip” petal near the opening of the flower and the “milky” liquid the plant excretes. L. siphilitica has blue flowers and is pollinated by bees, whereas L. cardinalis is red and is pollinated by hummingbirds.
L. cardinalis has been known to cause an upset in the digestive system when consumed.
This plant is easily propagated by dividing and spreading out the young plants which form around the older mature plants each year. Although the plant is generally considered a perennial any one plant may only live 7 to 10 years and then die. To ensure that your whole collection of cardinal flowers do not die off at the same time be sure to propagate some new plant lines using seeds at least every 4 years. Human activity also can interfere with the wildlife when getting the original seeds for your collection of “cardinal flowers”.Taking seeds or roots of lobelia cardinalis to start your collection will stunt the growth of the “cardinal flower” population. Along with red forms of bee balm this plant is a must if you want to attract hummingbirds. In the wild it is pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Layering in moist sand, it forms roots at the nodes.
Emetic, expectorant and nervine. The root is analgesic, anthelmintic, antispasmodic and stomachic. A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of epilepsy, syphilis, typhoid, stomach aches, cramps, worms etc. A poultice of the roots has been applied to sores that are hard to heal. The leaves are analgesic and febrifuge. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of croup, nosebleeds, colds, fevers, headaches etc. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to the head to relieve the pain of headache. This species is considered to have similar medicinal activity to L. inflata, but in a milder form. It was seldom if ever used. The plant is used to make a homeopathic remedy. The report does not say which part of the plant is used, nor what it treats.
North American indigenous peoples used root tea for a number of intestinal ailments and syphilis. Leaf teas were used by them for bronchial problems and colds, inter alia. The Meskwaki people used it as part of an inhalant against catarrh. Although not related to tobacco, it was apparently not smoked, but may have been chewed. The plant contains a number of alkaloids. As a member of the genus Lobelia, it is considered to be potentially toxic..Native Americans (the Penobscot tribes) smoked the dried leaves as a substitute for tobacco. Lobelia may have potential as a drug for, or in study of, neurological disorders.
A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of epilepsy, syphilis, typhoid, stomach aches, cramps, worms etc. A poultice of the roots has been applied to sores that are hard to heal. The leaves are analgesic and febrifuge. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of croup, nosebleeds, colds, fevers, headaches etc. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to the head to relieve the pain of headaches.
Known Hazards: The plant is potentially toxic, but the degree of toxicity is unknown. It contains the alkaloid lobeline which has a similar effect upon the nervous system as nicotine. The sap of the plant has been known to cause skin irritation.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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