Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) growing along the Merrimack River at the edge of Contoocook Island, Penacook, NH.

This native wildflower is quite uncommon, but may be found along streams and ponds in the eastern United States. Cardinal flowers time their blooms with the late-summer and fall migration of hummingbirds, who are attracted to the brilliant red flowers. Tradition holds that the scarlet-red flower was named for the red robes worn by cardinals in the Catholic Church. American Indians used infusions and decoctions of cardinal flower to treat all sorts of real and imagined afflictions.
(Photography by Joseph R. Modugno) close window