After the complex structure of the Columbine and other top ten wildflowers, number three is a journey to simplicity. Only two colors – brilliant red with a bright splash of yellow – tell us we have discovered the Indian Pink – Spigelia marilandica.
In the Southern Appalachians, the Indian Pink begins blooming in mid-April and continues through May and while never common, it will form locally dense communities and mounds. Beware of the seeds and roots as they are poisonous but American Indians considered the blossom to be delectible. Looking closely at the blossom, we can see the red buds and tubular appearance of the nectar receptacle. The bright red tubes are crowned with a five petal golden flower with a red center reflection and yellow anthers. What a beauty! The dark green leaves provide a stunning background.
Companion plants include the Solomon’s Seal, the Mayapple, Bluebell, and occasionally Clinton’s Lily.
May wildflowers are not as overpowering in diversity and color as the March and April beauties, but a patient search will discover the right combination of light, moisture, and soil type to unveil a simple beauty that can be easily appreciated. One last look at the Indian Pink and its principle pollinator – the butterfly.