Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ironweed and Lobelias

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)How often do you take time to look at the "weeds"? Most likely, if you were to pass a patch of Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) (left) you would take notice. They are shockingly red, and in a colony they are exceptionally striking. There's almost no way you wouldn't notice them. But oddly, before this patch I don't think I've seen live ones before - only photos. According to the USDA Plants profile, the plant is native to wetlands across most of the US and Canada. It is only listed as under watch in a few states, so perhaps I have just not ever been at the right place at the right time. This particular stand, in partial shade in a mildly swampy, low lying area right next to the road, was quite breathtaking. They are attractive to hummingbirds, and an interesting variety of uses recorded in the Native American Ethnobotany Database.

IronweedNestled in with the Lobelia were a few plants of Ironweed (left). This is another very common genus throughout the USA and Canada. Some species have restricted range. Based on the Plants Profile maps, I think it is most likely Vernonia noveboracensis, but could also be gigantea. Either way, I think most folks would consider this member of the aster family a weed, but it is actually quite attractive with its royal purple color and compliment of butterflies. Once again, the species (assuming correct identification) has several medicinal uses listed.

1 comment:

webb said...

Both are gorgeous, but need more moisture (on a regular basis) than I can provide. Thanks for your lovely photos to remind me of what I am missing!