As we were meandering along Brier Creek last weekend, this showy flower caught my eye:
It's been years since I saw a cardinal flower. This one, in its shady spot by the creek is a show-stopper. From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower site comes this information about Cardinal Flower:
Use Ornamental: Aromatic, Color, Showy, Garden, Perennial garden
Use Wildlife: In bloom, cardinal flower attracts hummingbirds. Nectar-Hummingbirds
Use Medicinal: Amerindians used root tea for stomach aches, syphilis, typhoid, worms. Leaf tea used for colds, croup, nosebleeds, fevers, headaches, rheumatism. Poisonous. (Foster & Duke) Roots, finely ground, placed in food said to be an aphrodisiac. (Weiner)
Use Other: Used mainly in love potions. Finely chopped roots places in food as love charm.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, exhaustion and weakness, dilation of pupils, convulsions, and coma. Toxic Principle: Alkaloids lobelamine, lobeline, and others, plus a volatile oil. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate
Love potions? And yet it can make you sick? Hmmm... I think I will simply admire this beautiful flower when I see it, and leave it in peace. And next year, maybe try to get some seeds or plants and have it in my garden for the hummingbirds.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.