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Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia cardinalis

 

Taxonomy:  Lobeliaceae (Campanulaceae) Bellflower Family

  Common Name:  Cardinal Flower, Scarlet lobelia, Lopelia, Red Lobelia, Indian Tobacco, “Eyebright”

 

 

By:  Malintze Gutierrez, Alberta Hayes & Rosanna Washburn

(Summer 2002)

HISTORY   APPEARANCE   HABITAT  PROPAGATION  DISTRIBUTION  MEDICINAL USES CHEMICAL STRUCTURE  REFERENCE

 

 

© William S. Justice

http://plants.usda.gov/

History

 

     The origin of the name, Lobelia cardinalis, was named after the Belgian botanist, Mathias de L’Obel.  He often used a “latinized” form of his name Lobelius.  The name cardinalis was inspired by the color of the robes of the Roman Catholic cardinals.

     Lobelia cardinalis was first found by explorers in Canada who sent the plant to France in the mid-1620’s.  English botanist John Parkins wrote “the rich crimson cardinal flower… it groweth neere the river in Canada, where the French plantation in America is seated” from then on Lobelia cardinalis was known as the cardinal flower.

 

 

Appearance

     

     This Lobelia species stands tall and may grow from two to four feet if given plenty of water.  Its deep purplish stalk is thick, rigid and erect with very little flexibility. An exception to this may occur during the flowering season when the weight of the flowers may cause the plant to tilt.  The alternating leaves of the cardinalis are medium-green and can grow as long as six inches.  These leaves are also pointy at both ends and are lance shaped.  When the Cardinal Flower blooms from late summer to mid-fall it draws attention because of its height and color.  Its scarlet florets are two-lipped and tubular with anthers that extend out over the lower lip. Each flower can range in size from 30-45 mm and contains five bright-red petals that are velvety in texture.

 

 

Habitat

 

     The Cardinal Flower can be found near damp shores, meadows, swamps, streams, ponds, and wetlands.  This species of the Bellflower family not only enjoys moist conditions it also prefers to grow in either a full sun or light shade environment.  It may also be found at an elevation between 1500 and 5200ft (460m-1590m).

 

 

Propagation

 

     The methods of propagation are seeds, divisions, and layering.  First, one must sow the seed in autumn and cover it.  Germinate in three to four weeks and it should bloom next spring.  Another way to propagate a seed is to see if its large enough to handle, then puncture the seedling out into individual pots and grow them in the greenhouse for their first winter.  Second, the divisions should be done in the cool month of spring and/or fall to minimize the stress.  Finally, layering is the procedure of bending the stem horizontally along the ground and covering it with moist sand.  It forms roots at the nodes.

 

 

Distribution

Plant Distribution by State

Lobelia cardinalis L.

 

Alabama

Indiana

Mississippi

Pennsylvania

Arizona

Iowa

Missouri

Rhode Island

Arkansas

Kansas

Nebraska

South Carolina

California

Kentucky

New Hampshire

Tennessee

Colorado

Louisiana

New Jersey

Texas

Connecticut

Maine

New Mexico

Utah

Delaware

Maryland

New York

Vermont

Florida

Massachusetts

North Carolina

Virginia

Georgia

Michigan

Ohio

W. Virginia

Illinois

Minnesota

Oklahoma

Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

Lobelia cardinalis not found

 

Lobelia cardinalis is found

Medicinal Uses

     In the past, several native populations such as the Iroquois, Delaware, Cherokee and Meskwaki used Cardinal Flower.  It is used medicinally as well as ceremonially.

Lobelia cardinalis is the best herb for bronchial spasms.  The leaves and flowers have strong antispasmodic effects on the bronchials when smoked at the first signs of spasms.  Lobelia is used as a sedative, which depresses spinal chord function excessively.  Lobeline is an active respiratory stimulant, which relieves the bronchial spasms.  It can be found in the leaves and seeds.

 

Plant Organ

Properties

How its used

Roots

Analgesic, Anthelmintic, Antispasmodic, and Stomachic

A tea made from roots has been used in the treatment of epilepsy, syphilis, typhoid, stomachaches, cramps, and worms.

Leaves

Analgesic and Febrifuge

A tea made from leaves is used for treatment of croup, nosebleeds, colds, fevers, and headaches.

 

 

 

 

Chemical Structure:

Lobeline [90-69-7]

C22H27NO2

Reference

 

Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. The Museum of New Mexico Press. Santa Fe,

    New Mexico, 1979. p. 98.

 

www.auburn.edu/~deancar/wfnotes/carfl.htm

http://plants.usda.gov

www.calflora.org

http://florawww.eeb.uconn.edu/acc_num/199800112.html

www.medicinegarden.com

http://plants.gardenbed.com/39/3833 pro.asp

http://www.badbear.com/dkramb/wildflowers/LobeliaCardinalis.html

http://plants.gardenbed.com/39/3833 med. asp

http://www.bbg.org/gar2/topics/wildflower/1999fa_cardinal.html

http://www.chemfinder.com/

 

 

 


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Updated February 13, 2008

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