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Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis L.)

Also known as cardinalflower.

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Cardinal Flower


A perennial lobelia with distinct scarlet-red flowers; named for the resemblance to the color of Catholic cardinals' robes. The color is not as good a match to that of the bird, Northern Cardinal, which tends to have a slightly more orangeish hue. Native to North America, with a wide distribution stretching to both costs, from the southwest to the entire east.

Range - Expand

Native or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.

Description & Identification

Flowers usually scarlet red, uncommonly white, rarely pink.

Faunal Associations

This flower is pollinated by hummingbirds, the Ruby-throated hummingbird in most of its range, as well as by some butterflies, including various swallowtails. Both of these are attracted to the red color, more so than bees.


Widely planted in gardens, due to its striking red flowers.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Plant) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Lobelia cardinalis | Go Botany (About This Site)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Lobelia cardinalis | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Photo gallery

Photo © Melissa McMasters, CC BY 4.0.
Photo © NC Wetlands, CC BY 4.0.