Common Name: Cardinal Flower
Scientific Name: Lobelia cardinalis
Thomas Jefferson recorded planting the Cardinal Flower in one of the oval flower beds near the house at Monticello in 1807. [fn] Betts, Garden Book, 335. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch,Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986),67-68.[/fn] This native perennial was introduced to Britain in 1626.[fn]Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories. (London: Black, 1968), 152.[/fn] It was recommended for garden use by Jefferson's nurseryman friend, Bernard McMahon, in The American Gardener's Calendar, 1806,[fn]McMahon, 72, 151, 292, 345, and 461.[/fn] and the earliest American reference comes from John Bartram in 1783.[fn]Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 192.[/fn] At one time this flower was used by Native American Indians as a root tea for treating stomach aches, typhoid and other diseases.
The Cardinal Flower is a hardy, North American summer-flowering perennial which has brilliant scarlet flower spikes above deep, blue green basal rosette of foliage.
- Peggy Cornett, 2005