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Indian Pink, Perennial Wildflower

Updated on September 18, 2014
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Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

Native Indian Pink

The bright blossoms add color to the landscape.
The bright blossoms add color to the landscape. | Source

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

Early spring flowers of Indian Pink attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.
Early spring flowers of Indian Pink attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. | Source

All About Louisiana Wildflowers - State Guides

All about Louisiana Wildflowers
All about Louisiana Wildflowers

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

Two native wildflowers, Indian Pink and daisy fleabane.
Two native wildflowers, Indian Pink and daisy fleabane. | Source

Hummingbird Gardens

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 Pink

Click thumbnail to view full-size
After the flowers fade, cover the seed pods with a stocking, secured with a twist tie.Plant in fall & put the pots out for the winter. In spring you should have seedlings.The flowers begin to bloom in spring & look like little gold stars with red throats.Indian Pink will form clusters of blooming plants in shade or part shade areas.Does well in naturescaping paired with other shade loving plants like Maidenhair fern.
After the flowers fade, cover the seed pods with a stocking, secured with a twist tie.
After the flowers fade, cover the seed pods with a stocking, secured with a twist tie.
Plant in fall & put the pots out for the winter. In spring you should have seedlings.
Plant in fall & put the pots out for the winter. In spring you should have seedlings.
The flowers begin to bloom in spring & look like little gold stars with red throats.
The flowers begin to bloom in spring & look like little gold stars with red throats.
Indian Pink will form clusters of blooming plants in shade or part shade areas.
Indian Pink will form clusters of blooming plants in shade or part shade areas.
Does well in naturescaping paired with other shade loving plants like Maidenhair fern.
Does well in naturescaping paired with other shade loving plants like Maidenhair fern.

Hummingbird Flowers

Other native and non-native plants that will attract hummingbirds.

Little Flyer Hummingbird Feeder

10 oz. Hummingbird Feeder with 4 ports and perches.
10 oz. Hummingbird Feeder with 4 ports and perches. | Source

Indian Pink Print

Indian Pink and fern poster print available on Zazzle.
Indian Pink and fern poster print available on Zazzle. | Source
Hummingbird Window Thermometer
Hummingbird Window Thermometer

Hummingbird Window Thermometer

Hummingbird 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.

We'd be tickled pink if you'd leave us a note.

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    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 3 years ago from Covington, LA

      Thanks for the comment, OhMe. I hope it is Indian Pink. They are hard to find in nurseries.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I think this is what we have in our yard and we just call it the Hummingbird plant. I will have to take a closer look and make sure. Enjoyed learning about this wildflower. Thanks.

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      My favorite too! And your lens is crafted so well it was a joy to read.

    • profile image

      FarmerTom 6 years ago

      Great lens, awesome photos. I don't grow this plant but will have to give it a try. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Lovely! Anything for our hummingbird friends!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Great job and beautiful, too....

    • profile image

      Sojourn 9 years ago

      The colors on your lens alone make me feel like I just took a pleasant stroll through a beautiful garden. You did an amazing job! Factual, pretty, and easy to read. I hadn't heard of Indian Pinks before but they look wonderful. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Lovely job and a stunning flower!

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 9 years ago

      Stunning lens as always 5*

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Weird that they're called pink though :) but great lens as usual, blessed by a squidangel.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 9 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Your Louisiana wildflowers are just spectacular! 5* and an angel blessing for this lens. I wish I could see some of these in person, but your photographs are amazing! Thanks for sharing this special treat with us. It must be the climate.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 9 years ago

      I love wildflowers and this one is beautiful! Beautiful lens as well.

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