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Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis

A hummingbird favorite! It also really prefers to be quite wet, which is why I find it growing right on the side of the streams here, at the edge of the water flow.

The flowers lack scent, which turns out is true for most flowers that have adapted to hummingbird pollinators. I had no idea this was a thing, and I find it fascinating. I wonder if hummingbirds just go by color/shape?

This is a lovely flower, and one of the most vivid reds in nature, but it doesn’t compete well. On the plus side, it has a toxic white latex inside which keeps mammals from browsing the foliage.

Size: 2'-4' tall
Family: Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)
Habitat: Floodplain forests, swamps, wet meadows, ditches.
Identifiers: Upright usually unbranched perennial with 1 to several stems from basal rosettes. Leaves alternate, lanceolate, 2-6 inches long. Intense scarlet red flowers in July-September. 
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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