FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Spigelia marilandica is a lovely clumping wildflower with opposite deep green oval leaves. In late spring, plants are crowned by racemes of attractive starry tubular flowers. The flowers are crimson on the outside and chartreuse yellow inside. This handsome perennial attracts hummingbirds to wooded slopes or brightly shaded perennial borders.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Spigelia marilandica is native to the eastern United States from Maryland to the Florida panhandle and west to Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Plants occur in rich bottomland forests, borders of swamps, shaded creek banks, ravines, clearings and edges of moist woodlands. This species is usually found in high quality natural areas.
Hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Spigelia marilandica is an upright perennial that gradually forms multi-stemmed clumps from underground rhizomes. Each stem is green with 4-7 pairs of opposite leaves.
Leaves are entire, glossy and ovate to lance-shaped. They average 4” long and 2” wide. Blade tips are pointed and bases are rounded or wedge-shaped. Leaves can be sessile or have a very short petiole.
The spike-like inflorescence produces 2-12 upward facing crimpled buds. The buds form on only one side of the flower stalk. The resulting tubular florets are bright red outside with a neon greenish-yellow interior. Each floret has 5 pointed lobes and is up to 2” long.
Blooming occurs in late spring and early summer. Florets mature into ¼” capsules with 2 cells containing several angular seed. The capsules split and vigorously expel the seed a short distance from the parent.
Plants usually attain a height of 1-2’ and a spread of 1’.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Spigelia marilandica grows best in partial shade with rich soils high in organic matter. Plants tolerate morning sun, full shade, drought, slightly acid pH and sandy, loamy or clay soils.
This species is pest resistant and usually not palatable to deer. Plants do not compete well with aggressive neighbors.
Deadheading spent flowers sometimes stimulates plants to rebloom.
LANDSCAPE USES: Spigelia marilandica is a perfect candidate for the Shade Gardens or Wildlife Gardens. It is also used as an Accent, Groundcover, Grouping or Mass Planting. Plants provide Showy Blooms, attract Hummingbirds and are valuable components of Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Rock Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try planting this with spring blooming wildflowers like Phlox divaricata, Chrysogonum virginianum, Iris cristata, Tiarella cordifolia and Heuchera Americana ‘Dales Strain’.
Carex pennsylvanica, Asaram canadense, Osmunda cinnamomea, Athyrium filix-femina and Polystichum acrostichoides are suitable foliage companions.
Aquilegia canadensis would be a worthy substitute. The two grow in similar cultural situations and have red and yellow flowers.
TRIVIA: Ruby-throated hummingbirds pollinate the flowers. Plants contain toxic alkaloids and calcium oxalate and are usually ignored by deer and other mammalian herbivores.
The generic name honors Flemish botanist Adrian Spigel (1578-1625). The specific epithet means “of or from the state of Maryland”.
Roots of Spigelia marilandica were once used by Creek and Cherokee Indians as a vermifuge to expel intestinal worms. Due to this practice, the plant is commonly called Indian pink or worm-grass.
This species belongs to the Logania family (Loganiaceae). The poison alkaloid strychnine comes from members of this family. Spigelia marilandica contains the toxic alkaloid Spigeline.
This plant is a No Advance Order plant, which means it is only available to order when the plant appears on our Availability and must be shipped within 2 weeks of ordering. We are more than happy to add you to a list to contact you when the plants become available. We cannot offer approximate dates of when the plants will be available next.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SPMA3