07.27.2019 The reddest of the red

I don’t think a flower could be more deeply red than the Cardinal Flower-Lobelia cardinalis.

This is a native here in New England and much of the country and can quite often be found in garden centers for home gardens.  We had a few for a while but they’ve left the premises. With such rich color it is easy to see why it has its popularity.

I had always thought that the style resembled that of a grass pink.  It does in appearance but not in function.  The grass pink’s style will drop onto a potential pollinator while that of the cardinal flower just brushes the top of the insect.

The white tip of the style is actually a lot of fine hairs that are the male organs.  When brushed aside they release pollen onto the visiting bee or other insect. Once they deposit their pollen, the hairs drop off leaving the stigma open with it’s ovary exposed and receptive to pollen from other insects.  If you click the image to enlarge it the hairs are just visible at the end of the style.

I found these at the edge of a local reservoir.  In the past there had been a huge colony.  But over time it disappeared for a reason unknown to me.  There are now a few plants and I am hoping the colony is rebounding.

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Amherst, Closeup Photography, ecology, Flora, Nature Photography, wildflower portrait, Wildflowers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 07.27.2019 The reddest of the red

  1. Ms. Liz says:

    I love this flower (which I probably first saw at Steve Schwartzman’s blog). Your photos are awesome and I especially loved the closeup.. the detail in the enlarged view is fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve done a good job controlling the super-saturated red of these flowers, especially in the third photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres says:

    I don’t know if it’s still available, but a friend used to favor a lipstick color called Lobelia. On her, it looked good. Even so, I think this flower would win the color competition. I’ve found lobelia only once, but it was blue. This is stunning — it reminds me of standing cypress, and some of the sages, although they often have that hint of orange that’s absent here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen women also with your Lobelia’s color as lipstick. A little of everything for everyone nowadays.
      The USDA page shows it in Texas so maybe you’ll happen upon it some day.


  4. bluebrightly says:

    I hope that colony comes back too. Your description of the pollination process and that close up are great. I knew the flower, but not the details. 🙂 This is another flower (of course!!) I remember fondly from back east. We don’t have the sages up here that the southwest does, so we have nothing like this, really. That color!

    Liked by 1 person

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