• Lobelia cardinalis 'Black Truffle'


    "'Black Truffle' forms attractive, bushy upright plants with dramatic, dark chocolate-purple foliage and bold red flowers. The new leaves emerge nearly black and fade to a deep, iridescent maroon as the plant matures during the heat of the summer. The bright cardinal red flowers appear in the mid summer and continue well into the fall.

    "Lobelia 'Black Truffle' was discovered by native plantsman Peter Heus of West Virginia and is brought to the market by Plants Nouveau. This eye catching lobelia is a true perennial with hardiness throughout USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8. It can be grown in average to moist soils and prefers full sun. 'Black Truffle' grows three to four feet tall by two to three feet wide. Hummingbirds are highly attracted to them; additionally, cardinal flowers also attract butterflies into the garden and are resistant to deer. This native perennial is perfect for use near water features and along creeks or ponds.

    "This cultivar is a true selection of the native species and is NOT a hybrid like the other dark leaved cultivars on the market. 'Black Truffle' is impressive and is eye-catching in both garden centers and in the landscape." (Greenhouse Product News) 


    "This herbaceous perennial plant is usually unbranched and 2–3½' tall. The central stem is light green, terete, and sparingly to densely hairy. The alternate leaves are up 6" long and 1½" across, but they are typically about one-half of this maximum size. The rough-textured leaves are lanceolate in shape and coarsely serrated along their margins; they have a tendency to curl upward along their central veins. The lower leaves have short petioles, while the upper ones are sessile. The undersides of leaves usually have fine hairs." (Hilty)


    "The preference is light shade to full sun, and wet to moist conditions. Cardinal Flower adapts to loam, sandy loam, or gravelly soil; the soil should contain some organic matter to retain moisture. This plant doesn't like to dry out and it has a reputation of being temperamental and short-lived. It is easier to establish this plant using transplants, as the seeds are quite small and the young seedlings are rather fragile." (Hilty)

    Faunal Associations: 

    "The nectar of the flowers attracts the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and various Swallowtail butterflies, including such species as Papilio polyxenes asterias (Black Swallowtail), Papilio troilus (Spicebush Swallowtail), and Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail). Sometimes the larger bumblebees will steal nectar through slits in the tubular corolla. Halictid bees sometimes gather pollen, but they are ineffective at pollination. The larvae of a polyphagous fly, Metopomyza scutellata, mine the leaves of Cardinal Flower. The caterpillars of a moth, Enigmogramma basigera (Pink-washed Looper Moth), also feed on the leaves (Schweitzer & Roberts, 2007). The seeds are too small to be of much interest to birds. Mammalian herbivores usually don't consume this plant because of the toxic white latex in the foliage. While it's a beautiful plant, the ecological value of Cardinal Flower to wildlife is relatively low." (Hilty)


    1. "Lobelia cardinalis" by yamada* is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    2. By Country Gardens Nursery, Copyright 2021, All Rights Reserved
    3. By Country Gardens Nursery, Copyright 2021, All Rights Reserved

    Greenhouse Product New plant description: “Perennial Solutions: Lobelia Cardinalis ‘Black Truffle.’” Greenhouse Product News, https://gpnmag.com/article/perennial-solutions-lobelia-cardinalis-black-truffle/. Accessed 2 Feb. 2022.

    John Hilty botany, cultivation, and faunal associations: John Hilty, "Cardinal Flower", Illinois Wildflowers, the publisher, Copyright 2004-2019. Accessed 2 February 2022

    Information and images compiled by Erik N. Vegeto

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