Cardinal-Flower blooming at Bear Creek Nature Park

A pop of red in a wet area catches your eye… you might be looking at cardinal-flower, also called red lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis). The red flowers attract hummingbirds looking for a nectar snack. Ruby-throated hummingbirds avoid cold weather, so they may start their migration south as early as mid-July, with peak migration in late August and early September. Since cardinal-flower blooming coincides with the period of southward movement, it probably help fuel the long hummingbird journey back to the area between southern Mexico and northern Panama.

Cardinal-flower is in bloom right now at Bear Creek Nature Park. Mindy Milos-Dale, our Parks Director, sent me these pictures of plants she found blooming near one of the boardwalks in the middle of the park. Cool pics!

Get out there this weekend to see if you can find this cool plant. Don’t pick the flowers, please. Leave them for the hummingbirds and insects that need them to survive. Leave a comment below if you find more cardinal flower in the parks!

Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) shows off its bright red colors in a moist area at Bear Creek Nature Park.
Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) shows off its bright red colors in a moist area at Bear Creek Nature Park.
Another shot of the cardinal-flower.
Another shot of the cardinal-flower. If you take a close look at the flower, you’ll notice that the base of the petals are fused into a tube. The petals of all flowers are collectively referred to as the corolla, so we say that cardinal-flower has a “corolla tube.”
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About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

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