Right now, Spigelia marilandica (indian pink or pinkroot) is blooming in a couple of shady spots in our garden. This pretty woodland perennial grows naturally in the southeast of the United States. Its range does not include New York, but it seems do well in gardens here.
The attractive red and yellow tubular flowers are typically pollinated by hummingbirds, who are–like most birds–especially attracted to red.
Spigelia marilandica is also a medicinal plant. Its roots contain the alcaloid spigeline, which has antihelminthic properties. That is, powdered roots can be used as a de-worming medicine against tapeworms and roundworms. As with many herbal medicines, the proper dosage is important: too much spigelin can cause dizziness, blurred vision, muscular spasms, nausea and other unpleasant effects.
I have not seen a hummingbird in the garden this year. But yesterday, I notice the first fireflies. Summer is here!