Stem. - Hairy, six inches to a foot high. Root-leaves. - Clustered, oblong. Stem-leaves. - Incised, those among the flowers three to five-cleft, bright scarlet toward the summit, showy. Flowers. - Pale yellow, spiked. Calyx. - Tubular, flattened. Corolla. - Two-lipped, its upper lip long and narrow, its lower short and three-lobed. Stamens. - Four, unequal. Pistil. - One.
- Scarlet tufts Are glowing in the green like flakes of fire; The wanderers of the prairie know them well, And call that brilliant flower the painted cup.*
But we need not go to the prairie in order to see this plant, for it is equally abundant in certain low sandy New England meadows as well as in the near vicinity of New York City. Under date of June 3d, Thoreau graphically describes its appearance near Concord, Mass.: "The painted cup is in its prime. It reddens the meadow, painted-cup meadow. It is a splendid show of brilliant scarlet, the color of the cardinal flower, and surpassing it in mass and profusion. . . . I do not like the name. It does not remind me of a cup, rather of a flame when it first appears. It might be called flame flower, or scarlet tip. Here is a large meadow full of it, and yet very few in the town have ever seen it. It is startling to see a leaf thus brilliantly painted, as if its tip were dipped into some scarlet tincture, surpassing most flowers in intensity of color."