Saturday, September 7, 2013

Stopping by Brier Creek: Cardinal Flower

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.


Adele Browne said...

Susanna, these pictures are so vivid, bright as Cardinal Flower is in real life. Ken and I come upon these flowers in the woods and think we will come back and collect the seeds, but they are not nearly as easy to spot without the red blossoms! Thanks for the medicinal information; I'm with you, about growing them for the birds. Who needs a love potion when you've got the real thing?

Caroline said...

Granny Sue, love this beautiful plant! We have a few handfuls and they do spread. :)

Just wanted you to know: the novel my Go-Along Book is a companion to(you shared recipes so generously for it!) is on sale on Amazon for preorder:

I'd love for you to take a gander at the cover. Love it! Thanks, Granny Sue for being so helpful while I put my Go Along book together. :)

Lynn said...

what a beautiful flower and new to me, interesting post and gorgeous photos

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