1013 Spigelia marilandicaCommon Names: Indian pink, woodland pinkroot, worm grass Family: Strychnaceae (Indian pink Family)
Indian pink is a pretty little wildflower that deserves more attention from gardeners. Although it dies to the ground in winter, Indian pink comes back each spring, forming a clump that reaches 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) in height. It has 4-7 pairs of opposite leaves that are 2-6 in (5-15 cm) long and lacking petioles (leaf stems). The flowers are in upright clusters (cymes), each consisting of a 2 in (5 cm) long scarlet trumpet which opens at the end into a five-pointed star exposing its yellowish inside. A truly beautiful flower, and it blooms over a long spring and summer season.
Spigelia marilandica occurs rather uncommonly in rich, moist hardwood forests in the southeastern U.S. from South Carolina west to southern Indiana, and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida. It is usually found in calcareous woods or in hardwood slope forests.
CultureLight: Indian pink thrives in sun or part shade. Moisture: Indian pink likes a moist, but not waterlogged, soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 9. Propagation: The clumps can be divided. The seeds germinate readily.
Grow Indian pink in a shady woodland garden, along a path, or in beds with other small, nonaggressive flowers. It looks good with small ferns, triliums, violets, wild columbine, and other dainty woodland plants. It is a natural show stopper, and no one walks by it without commenting! Indian pink can be hard to find; check with native nurseries in your area.
The poison strychnine comes from members of the strychnos family, and extracts of Indian pink root were used medicinally by native Americans to rid the body of parasitic worms. Apparently it had some efficacy, and western doctors also used the drug. There are three other species of Spigelia in Florida, and they are all quite rare, with two of them listed as Endangered Species.
Steve Christman 3/10/06, 4/26/12