Indian Pink, Perennial Wildflower
Native Indian Pink
Pinkroot, Spigelia marilandica, Hummingbird favorite
Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica is a "must have" native plant for the hummingbird garden. The gorgeous red tubular flowers with yellow star-shaped tips are filled with nectar and the hardy, perennial plants adapt to many shade to part sun conditions.
Pinkroot is lovely in a woodland setting or in a flower, wildflower or rain garden. Indian Pinks are another of the hardy, low maintenance southern native perennials that are perfect for sustainable landscaping.
Indian Pink is a beautiful native flowering perennial that is a favorite of hummingbirds.
Gardening with Native Plants of the South
Spigelia marilandica, My Favorite Native Perennial Wildflower
My most favorite perennial wildflower is Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica. The common name comes from two sources. The Pink part refers to the sharply cut lobes of the flower face (like it was cut with pinking shears). The Indian part refers to the fact that it was a medicinal plant of the Native Americans. The name "pink root" refers to the part of the plant that was used medicinally.
I first discovered this red and yellow beauty one weekend when I was home from college and was taking a nature walk along the edge of the old cattle pen near the barn on our ranch in north Louisiana.
Then later, when we were looking for acreage in Covington, where we planned to retire, what helped us to decide which one to buy was when we drove up the driveway and we saw a Ruby-throated hummingbird dart over to drink from one of the many clusters of Indian Pinks on the property.
The long, tubular, nectar rich flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds. When you add the long blooming period and the fact that after the initial big flush of blooms in spring, they will bloom again during early summer, this plant is one that wildlife gardeners just must have. They are sometimes hard to find in the trade, but most native plant nurseries carry them.
Indian Pink Poster
All About Louisiana Wildflowers - State Guides
This guide has fair photos and a lot of extra, interesting information about many native flowering plants. There is a guide available for every U.S. state.
Indian Pink History and Medicinal Use
One of the common names, Pinkroot, came from the fact that Native Americans used the pink colored roots as medicine to expell intestinal parisites. However this use has been discontinued because of the dangerous nature of the poisonous alkaline spigeline which is contained in the roots.
During the early 1900s the plant was almost gathered to extinction by disreputable pharmacologists who were trying to make a quick buck, but its poisonous nature saved it. Today the beautiful plants are still sometimes hard to find, but are currently being propagated and preserved by many native plant enthusiasts (like the Folsom Native Plant Society) and hummingbird gardeners.
Indian Pink and Daisy Fleabane
Growing Conditions and Propagation
This hardy perennial thrives in moist, well drained, rich acidic soil in shade to part sun. Indian Pinks forms clumps and look good in the woodland garden or in a flower bed. They will also grow well in rain gardens because in their natural state they grow in wet woodlands that experience seasonal flooding.
It blooms from March through June along with Oakleaf Hydrangea, downy phlox and wild Penstemons. The dead flower clusters can be trimmed to produce more blooms, but we prefer to let them go to seed so that more new plants will be produced. It is dormant in the late fall and winter.
Spigelia marilandica can be propagated from the dark brown, angled seed, but the seeds may take several months to germinate. They should be planted in good soil in trays or pots in the fall and must spend the winter outside. It can also be propagated from stem cuttings taken of new, but firm growth in early spring or after it blooms. The easiest way to propagate this plant is to divide the roots in fall or early spring.
Growing Indian PinkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Other native and non-native plants that will attract hummingbirds.
Little Flyer Hummingbird Feeder
Indian Pink Print
Hummingbird Window Thermometer
Classic Window Thermometer features an arched top and bottom and a frosted background behind the scale to ease reading in all lighting conditions. 10 designs are available.