The Cardinal Flower is a common sight in Eastern North America. It’s an important resource for hummingbirds and it’s used Native American herbal medicine. (It is considered toxic to humans!) If you want to read more about the scientific information on Cardnial Flower you can click HERE. But, if you’re interested in the new myth then read on.
A very long time ago two tribes lived in the Appalachian mountains. They were separated by a large river. One tribe farmed and fished the Northern bank and the other made their living on the Southern side. They would occasionally trade by meeting in center of the flat water in dugout canoes. Until one winter day when a disagreement arose over a bad trade. From that point on the tribes would be enemies. The Northern chieftain had a young son who was a fearless warrior. He excelled in every challenge. When his father fell ill the tribe’s shaman sent him on a mission to gather fungus from the birch trees which was on the other side of the river. While gathering the fungus he stumbled upon a young maiden bathing in a side stream of the river. His heart skipped a beat and it was love at first sight. He was so struck by her beauty that he forgot where he was and stepped on a twig snapping it. The sound alerted her his presence and she gasped loudly when she realized she wasn’t alone. Their eyes met his love was returned. They were so lost in each other’s gaze that they didn’t notice the other warriors responding to her gasp until an arrow found it’s mark deep inside the young man’s chest. He stumbled towards her and died on the edge of the water. In her heartbreak, the maiden fainted in the middle of the stream and drowned. The warriors in both tribes were in shock. As they looked at the scene that had just played out a single red flower sprung up from the blood that was spilled on the water’s edge. To their amazement, a small bird with a ruby red throat rose from spot where the maiden fell. The bird flew over and began to kiss the flower and to this day when a hummingbird kisses a Cardnial Flower it’s a reminder that even death cannot stop true love.