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Arts and Culture

Discover Nature: Cardinal Flower Blooms

Bright red clusters of cardinal flowers bloom atop dozens of green stalks between two branches of a stream.
In the waning weeks of summer, watch for cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) blooming along streambanks and in rain gardens. Bright red clusters of nearly bell-shaped flowers feed pollinators, and provide vibrant color late into the growing season.

This week along Missouri waterways, watch for one of our state’s bright-red wildflowers in full bloom.


Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) grows in wet environments – especially along Ozark rivers and streams, in openings of bottomland forests, ditches, sloughs, swamps, and lakes. It also grows well in cultivated rain gardens with rich, wet soils, and tolerates medium shade. 


From July to October, bright red flowers in dense racemes emerge from up-to-five-foot-tall stalks. Numerous alternate, dark-green, lance-shaped and finely-toothed leaves grow to six-inches long. 


These showy native wildflowers in the bellflower family attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds. 


In the waning weeks of summer, watch for the bright red flowers of cardinal flowers, feeding our late-season pollinators, and providing a splash of vibrant color along your local stream or rain garden.  


Learn more about cardinal flowers and other Missouri-native wildflowers at MissouriConservation.org.


Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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