Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Lobelia cardinalis L.

Fully hardy, short-lived, clump-forming perennial with reddish-purple stems and long racemes of tubular brilliant scarlet-red flowers in summer and early autumn.  To 90cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This species of Lobelia, so eminently distinguished for the richness of its scarlet blossoms, is a native of the colder as well as the warmer parts of North-America.  Parkinson, who cultivated it in 1629, informs us that he received plants of it from France for his garden, and that “it groweth neere the river of Canada, where the French plantation in America is situated.” […] Beautiful and hardy as this plant is, and long as it has been introduced to this country, we do not find it generally in gardens; we attribute this to its having, in a greater degree than many other plants, a partiality for a particular soil; in certain districts, where the soil is stiff and moist, it grows as freely as any weed, in other soils it is perpetually going off: it is also one of those plants whose roots require to be often parted; if this be done every Autumn, and they be planted in a stiff loam, the situation somewhat moist and shady, this very desirable plant may be had to grow and blossom in perfection.’  [BM t.320/1795].  Paxton’s Dictionary lists Milleri, an English hybrid introduced in 1835. 

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [H.127/1845].


Lobelia splendens has been considered a form of Lobelia cardinalis as Lobelia cardinalis Willd. var. splendens (Willd.) Bowden.  See Lobelia splendens Willd. varieties.

Published Sep 29, 2009 - 04:58 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2010 - 11:41 AM

Figured are toothed leaves and raceme of tubular brilliant scarlet-red flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.320, 1795.

Lobelia cardinalis L. | BM t.320/1795 | BHL

Family Campanulaceae
Region of origin

North America



Common Name

Cardinal flower

Name in the Camden Park Record

Lobelia cardinalis 

Confidence level high