Cardinal Flower is an Illinois native wildflower that is found mostly in mesic soils, and generally blooms from late August into mid-September. This flower attracts different species of Swallowtail butterflies, larger bumblebees, and the ruby-throated hummingbird. Each individual plant can produce thousands of extremely small seed – estimated around 400,000 seeds per ounce! Once the plant is finished flowering and is ready to go to seed, we collect seed to plant in other areas of the Park.
Pictured above is an area of the Park’s woodlands that tends to stay wet for most of the summer with little-to-no vegetation. This specific spot is in one of the areas where we spend a large amount of effort removing invasive species via forestry mower and herbicide spot spraying. Collected Cardinal Flower seed was spread in the fall of 2017 and last summer the plants were showing off their first year of flowers! We focus on this plant because it responds very well in areas where sunlight can penetrate the forest’s canopy. In areas that have high density of dying ash trees due to emerald ash borer, the Cardinal Flower seems to grow very well. Look for this native wildflower throughout Allerton as we continue to collect the seed every fall and plant it in suitable areas.