Flowers: growing in long, terminal racemes and favouring one side of the stem. Calyx: five-pointed. Corolla: a long and narrow tube divided into five irregular lobes; two that are upright and three that are spreading, or drooping. Stamens: five with red filaments united into a tube. Anthers: bluish and slightly fringed with white. Pistil: one, with a long style and red stigma. Leaves: alternate; on short petioles; lance-oblong; serrated; becoming bract-like among the flowers. Stem; two to four feet high; erect; grooved; almost smooth.
As the cardinal flower rises from the border of some stream it appears not unlike the unknown red-robed dignitary of the Roman church after whom it was named; and its bearing is no less proud, we may imagine, than his when about to be consecrated. It was of this plant that a Frenchman said: "I saw the flower, my admiration is forever."
The corolla is cunningly fashioned to allow humming birds to sip of its nectar, and by the thoughtfulness of Dame Nature the long, slender bill of the humming bird is exactly made to suit the corolla. The drooping of the lip invites the bird to search for nectar as cordially as an open door invites a guest to step within. It is not necessary to offer the bird a seat or platform to stand upon as Master Bee requires; for he poises himself on the wing. Sometimes roguish, unprincipled bees steal the nectar from a slit at the base of the flower and so avoid their duty of carrying the pollen for fertilization.
Panicularia Canadensis is the name of the beautiful rattlesnake grass which accompanies the illustration.