Lobelia cardinalis

What a lovely evening. A thunderstorm approaches. The locusts are making their sawing noise with the dusk. I have put some sweet potatoes in the oven to bake. It is quiet. Dennis was in Sewanee, Tennessee over the weekend and is headed back now. Kitten Britches and I slept last night in my little room instead of the big room. I like my little room. It is cozy and comforting and I can look right out the windows into the trees and the night. The moon shines in. I woke at 4:30 but dozed again until 6.

My friend Ginger came over yesterday, she had been on a float trip and saw Cardinal flower along the banks of the river, so we looked it up in Alice Lounsberry’s Southern Wildflowers and Trees (1901). It’s in the Bellflower Family, Latin name is Lobelia Cardinalis. Here is what she says:

“L. cardinalis, cardinal-flower, red lobelia, is a wild flower about which the nation might feel a righteous pride, so intensely colored and velvety in texture are its flowers, defying the artist’s pigments to imitate them, and forming against their background of dark green and lustrous leaves a wild bit of colour almost without equal. Happily the plant is well-known and its range very general. Old men, urchins and little maids all seek it by the brook’s side. Some among them call the flowers “nosebleed,” not, however, a pretty name. They are used to dye with, and that they give up pretty freely their colour can be seen by letting the corollas fall in water, which then soon turns to their own hue. Country belles, I have been told by one initiated, make from the flowers a fluid with which to touch up their cheeks.”

I know a place in the park next to the creek where Cardinal flower grows. I must look this week to see if it is there this year.

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