Herb: Cardinal Flower

Latin name: Lobelia cardinalis

Family: Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)

Medicinal use of Cardinal Flower:

Emetic, expectorant and nervine. The root is analgesic, anthelmintic, antispasmodic and stomachic. A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of epilepsy, syphilis, typhoid, stomach aches, cramps, worms etc. A poultice of the roots has been applied to sores that are hard to heal. The leaves are analgesic and febrifuge. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of croup, nosebleeds, colds, fevers, headaches etc. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to the head to relieve the pain of headaches. This species is considered to have similar medicinal activity to L. inflata, but in a milder form. It was seldom if ever used. The plant is used to make a homeopathic remedy. The report does not say which part of the plant is used, nor what it treats.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Damp shores, meadows and swamps.

Propagation of Cardinal Flower:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Layering in moist sand, it forms roots at the nodes.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp shores, meadows and swamps.

Known hazards of Lobelia cardinalis:

The plant is potentially toxic, but the degree of toxicity is unknown. It contains the alkaloid lobeline which has a similar effect upon the nervous system as nicotine. he sap of the plant has been known to cause skin irritation.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.