Stem. - From two to four feet high. Leaves. - Alternate, narrowly oblong, slightly toothed. Flowers. - Bright red, growing in a raceme. Calyx. - Five-cleft. Corolla. - Somewhat two-lipped, the upper lip of two rather erect lobes, the lower spreading and three-cleft. Stamens. - Five, united into a tube. Pistil. - One, with a fringed stigma.
We have no flower which can vie with this in vivid coloring. In late summer its brilliant red gleams from the marshes or is reflected from the shadowy water's edge with unequalled intensity As if some wounded eagle's breast Slow throbbing o'er the plain, Had left its airy path impressed In drops of scarlet rain.*
The early French Canadians were so struck with its beauty that they sent the plant to France as a specimen of what the wilds of the New World could yield. Perhaps at that time it received its English name which likens it to the gorgeously attired dignitaries of the Roman Church.
Plate LXXXII. Cardinal-Flower - L. cardinalis