Quick Facts

Species Type



2 to 4 feet tall


Seeps, wooded swamps, freshwater marshes, and along the banks of ponds, rivers and streams; grows in full or partial sun


Grows throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Conservation Status



The cardinal flower has small, red, tubular flowers with two lips and three lobes. The flowers bloom on alternate sides along unbranched stalks. It blooms from July to September. Finely toothed, lance-shaped leaves grow to 4 inches in length. The cardinal flower plant grows 2 to 4 feet tall.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

The cardinal flower reseeds itself each year. It can be propagated and spread by seed or cutting.

Did You Know?

  • Cardinal flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Although it has been used for medicinal purposes, the cardinal flower is potentially toxic to humans and other mammals.
  • The Iroquois had many medicinal uses for cardinal flower. They boiled the roots with chicory root and used the liquid to treat fever. They also mashed the roots, stems, leaves and flowers together to treat cramps.
  • The Pawnee used cardinal flower roots and flowers as a love charm.

Sources and Additional Information