Aug 11 2008

Cardinal Flower

Published by at 7:10 am under Plants

Cardinal flower (photo by Chuck Tague)

Cardinal flower (photo by Chuck Tague)

Yesterday I went to Jennings prairie in Butler County on a quest to see flowers.  In July and August it's the place to be.

The weather was fine and the prairie was beautiful with dense blazing star (for which Jennings is famous), goldenrod, tall coreopsis, swamp thistle, tall sunflower, Joe Pye weed and ironweed.  There were more flowers than I can name.

Goldfinches and indigo buntings sang across the prairie and paused to feed fledglings.  Common yellowthroats and song sparrows warned their young in the thickets as I walked by.

I extended my walk to the woodland trails and found bee balm and wild bergamot.  When I reached the stream at Oakwoods Trail I had to stop - the cardinal flowers were absolutely stunning.

Lobelia cardinalis grows in North America from Canada to Florida and south-westward to California.  French explorers sent samples to France in the mid-1620's where it became known as the cardinal flower because its color is like the Roman Catholic cardinals' miter.  The northern cardinal (bird) is so named for the same reason.

Cardinal flowers are favorites of people and hummingbirds precisely because of their deep red hue.  I looked at their velvety petals long enough that my eyes drank in their color.  Nearby, ruby-throated hummingbirds drank in the nectar.

It's wonderful that a flower so noticable and appealing to hummingbirds is in bloom while they migrate south.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

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