Plant Name

Scientific Name: Lobelia cardinalis

Synonyms: Lobelia fulgensL. splendens

Common Names: Cardinal Flower, Scarlet Lobelia, Great Lobelia, Indian Tobacco

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Riparian. This moisture-loving plant grows in sun to part shade in constantly moist soil along streams, springs, and seeps and in wet meadows in upper desert and upland areas.

Flower Color: Brilliant red, White (rare), Pink (cultivated)

Flowering Season: Summer, Fall (early). This showy wildflower blooms after the summer monsoon rains have begun.

Height: 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m) tall

Description: The flowers are on long, slender, erect racemes. The individual flowers are tubular, 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and two-lipped with 2 slender lobes on the upper lip and 3 larger lobes on the lower lip. The anthers are blue-gray in color and joined together in a tube. The flowers are followed by 2-valved seed capsules. The leaves are dark green, alternate, minutely toothed, and linear-lanceolate to narrowly oblong in shape. The stems are erect and unbranched.

Special Characteristics

Butterfly Plant – The flowers attract large butterflies and moths like Pipevine Swallowtails (Battus philenor) and White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata) moths.Culturally Significant Plant – Native Americans used this plant for a variety of medicinal purposes and as ceremonial tobacco.

Hummingbird Flower – The nectar-filled flowers attract hummingbirds.

Legal Status – Protected Native Plant (Salvage Restricted)

Poisonous – All parts of this plant are poisonous and contain the toxic alkaloids lobelamine and lobeline.

Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Campanulales
Family: Campanulaceae – Bellflower family