perennial wildflower is about 1-2¼' tall, consisting of loose clumps of
unbranched leafy stems that are more or less erect. The central stem of
each plant is medium green, slender, terete, and glabrous; it has a
pair of longitudinal wings (about 0.5 mm. in length). At intervals,
pairs of opposite sessile leaves occur at intervals along each
stem. These leaves are 2-4" long and 1-2½" across; they
are ovate-cordate, ovate, or lanceolate in shape and their margins are
smooth (entire). The upper leaf surface is dark green and glabrous,
while the lower leaf surface is medium green and either glabrous or
pubescent along the veins. Leaf venation is pinnate; the lateral veins
are curved, rather than straight. Above the uppermost pair of leaves,
there occurs a spike-like raceme of flowers on a peduncle about 2"
long. This raceme is about 1-4" long and curves to one side; about 2-10
flowers occur along the upper side of the raceme, where they are
ascending to erect. Each flower is about 1½" long, consisting of a
scarlet tubular corolla with 5 upper yellow lobes, a short green calyx
with 5 narrow teeth, 5 slightly exerted stamens, and a pistil with a
strongly exerted style. The tubular corolla is more narrow toward the
bottom than the top; its upper lobes are slightly recurved, widely
spreading to ascending, triangular in shape, and about 8-12 mm. in
length. The teeth of the calyx are 5-8 mm. long and narrowly
linear-lanceolate in shape. The base of the calyx is tubular and very
short. The short pedicels of the flowers are up to 2.0 mm. in length.
The blooming period
occurs from late spring to early summer (rarely
later), lasting about 1 month. There is no noticeable floral scent.
Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 2-celled seed capsules that are
4-6 mm. tall and 6-10 mm. across at maturity. Each cell of the capsule
contains a few seeds. Later in the summer, these capsules split open to
discharge their seeds explosively. The root system is fibrous and
rhizomatous. Clonal offsets often develop from the rhizomes.
The preference is partial sun to light shade, moist conditions, and a
fertile loam with abundant organic matter. This plant can be propagated
from stem cuttings (dipped in growth hormone) or by division of the
root system. Seeds should be planted in the ground as soon as possible.
Insect pests and disease organisms rarely bother the foliage. Indian
Pink can be cultivated in areas that are north of its natural range (in
Zones 4 or 5).
The native Indian Pink is occasional in
Illinois, while in the rest of the state it is absent (see Distribution
). Illinois lies along the northern range-limit of this
Habitats include bottomland woodlands, wooded areas along
streams, and edges of swamps. This wildflower is found in high quality
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds cross-pollinate
from which they receive nectar. Aside from this, little is known about
floral-faunal relationships for this species. The foliage and roots of
Indian Pink are usually avoided by mammalian herbivores because of
their toxicity from alkaloids and calcium oxalate crystals. However,
White-tailed Deer may browse on the foliage sparingly in some areas.
A bottomland woodland in southern Illinois.
Indian Pink has attractive flowers with striking colors. It is the only
member of the Logania family (Loganiaceae) that is native to Illinois.
Once the distinctive flowers are in bloom, it is very easy to identify
this plant. In the past, the roots of Indian Pink were used as a
vermifuge (to expel intestinal worms), however this practice has been
largely discontinued because of the potentially dangerous side-effects.
Other common names of this plant are Pinkroot and Worm-Grass.