Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) is a species of Lobelia native to the Americas, from southeastern Canada south through the eastern and southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia.
Lobelia cardinalis is related to two other Lobelia species in to the Eastern United States, Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco) and Lobelia siphilitica (Great Lobelia); all display the characteristic "lip" petal near the opening of the flower and the "milky" liquid the plant excretes. It has been known to cause an upset in the digestive system when consumed.
Along with red forms of bee balm this plant is a must if you want to attract hummingbirds.
North American indigenous peoples used root tea for a number of intestinal ailments and syphilis. Leaf teas were used by them for bronchial problems and colds, inter alia. The Meskwaki people used it as part of an inhalant against catarrh. Although related to tobacco, it was apparently not smoked, but may have been chewed. The plant contains a number of alkaloids. As a member of the genus Lobelia, it is considered to be potentially toxic.
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